Usain Bolt could reconsider his decision to quit the sport, according to American sprint rival Justin Gatlin.
Gatlin finished second behind Bolt in last year’s Olympic 100 metres final and also at the past two World Championships with the Jamaican dominant.
Bolt is due to bow out on the global stage in August’s World Championships in London after the 100m and 4x100m relay, but Gatlin can see him finding the lure of competition difficult to resist.
Bolt is due to bow out on the global stage in August’s World Championships in London
Asked whether he might change his mind, Gatlin, who is training with the United States squad in Birmingham, said: “Why not? He has that rock star mentality where he can travel the world, have fun, party in different places and then say: ‘I want to take this seriously one more time’.
“He has the opportunity to come back, once he leaves he can have a year of rest and say: ‘I love track so much I can’t leave it too soon’.
“For me it’s a rare moment which you’re not able to appreciate like I do. He’s a true competitor, in my whole career I’ve never raced anyone who’s such a true competitor and who’s going toe-to-toe with me.
“I love that, someone who’s not going to falter or fall down or back away – he’s going to rise to the occasion. That’s what makes me the athlete I am today, it makes me want to rise to the occasion.”
Two-time drug cheat Gatlin wonders who might fill the void left by Bolt’s retirement (Adam Davy/PA)
Gatlin, twice banned for drug use, was beaten by Bolt in Beijing two years ago by just one hundredth of a second – losing his 28-run unbeaten record at the time.
But with Bolt stepping down, Gatlin, who also finished second behind the Jamaican in the 200m in Beijing, is excited at what it means.
He said: “It makes you a little more jittery. Who’s going to step up to fill that void, who’s going to rise to the occasion and want to be the next superstar?
“Now you’re not worried about the ‘Usain Bolt Show’. Now you’re more concerned about the head-on competition, people rising to the occasion and saying: ‘I will do it for me and my family now I have the opportunity to run from the front’.”