Gatlin calls out Carl Lewis on Bolt criticism

August 26, 2017
Justin Gatlin bows at the feet of Usain Bolt after defeating the sprint king in the men's 100m final at the IAAF World Championships on Saturday, August 4.
Carl Lewis

ZURICH, Switzerland:

World 100m champion Justin Gatlin doesn't agree with Carl Lewis' statement that athletics' growth was hampered by the pro-Usain Bolt focus over the past eight years.

Lewis, a nine-time Olympic champion, argued that Brand Bolt overshadowed the sport itself, and suggested that track and field will be better off without the iconic Jamaican sprinter, who retired after the World Championships in London.

"We need to do more to build on the sport. We don't need to follow that trend that we have been in the last eight years, which was just about following one person [Bolt]," Lewis said recently.

Gatlin, who ended his season at the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League meet, believes Lewis' assessment of Bolt's impact on the sport is out of sync with reality.

"When you are a pillar and a figurehead within the track and field community and you helped to change the game like that, you are going to command that respect and command that attention, and I have to disagree with those [Lewis'] comments," Gatlin told STAR Sports.

"He [Bolt] has put together a great career and he was always going to have to stop at one point in time, and there's no better place to stop than on top, and that's just who he is. He's a legend and so I have to disagree [with Lewis]," added Gatlin.

The sprinter, who actually relegated Bolt to third place in that Word Championships 100m final, went on to describe 2017 as his best year in the sport from a psychological perspective.

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