(SportsMax)- Reigning World Champion Justin Gatlin has insisted a rivalry with recently retired sprint king Usain Bolt made him not only a better athlete but a better person.
It was Gatlin who had the last say when the two met at the London World Championships last summer, but it was a rare victory for the American. In 12 career finals between the athletes, Bolt has walked away the winner on nine occasions with Gatlin claiming three. One of those defeats came at the 2005 World Championships when the Jamaican was still a teenager.
Despite limited success, Gatlin is one of few to enjoy such a record against the double world record holder. In fact, he remains the only athlete to have beaten the sprinter at not only one but two major finals. The list of trophies also stocks up overwhelmingly in the Jamaicans favour.
Bolt’s tally stands at 8 Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championship gold medals, while Gatlin has claimed one Olympic gold medal and 3 World Championship gold medals. However, despite not always coming out on top Gatlin claims the rivalry was an invaluable experience.
“Racing against Usain has made me become a better athlete and better human being,” Bolt told businesslive.
“I say that because when you are defeated and feel like you were at your best, there are only two ways you can react – either you will feel that you have let yourself down or you take that as a lesson and try to come back stronger,” he added.
“He [Bolt] took track and field to another level. When you race against him you come across situations that make you feel like you are the man but you get defeated by a better man.
“So‚ the only thing is how can I beat this guy. Along the way I just had to become confident and take my losses throughout my career against him,” he said.