After His Rise and Fall, a Brooklyn Sprinter Tries Again

Justin Gatlin crossing the finish line. (Photo from Amsterdam News)

Who doesn’t love a comeback story?

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Justin Gatlin ran the 100-meter dash in 9.85 seconds, winning the gold and earning himself the title of “fastest man alive.” For the Brooklyn native and University of Tennessee alum, it didn’t seem like things could get any better.

Amsterdam News last week told the story of Gatlin’s fall from grace, and his return to the Olympics.

 Gatlin was subsequently showered with the spoils of fame, including throwing the customary first pitch at Yankee Stadium while being honored by one of his hometown baseball teams. But less than two years later in the summer of 2006, Gatlin’s career took a dramatic turn.

After a drug trial registered elevated testosterone levels, Gatlin was banned from the sport for four years. He gave professional football a shot, trying out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans in 2007, but failed to make either team. In 2010, he returned to the track. Gatlin struggled with weight issues, but ultimately proved his resilience.

Gatlin earned his way to the United Kingdom by winning the U.S. 100-meter trials in Eugene, Ore., in June. His time of 9.80, a personal best, is the fastest ever officially recorded for a man over 30. Gatlin is 30 years and five months old.

Gatlin is scheduled to race this Saturday, August 4, where he will face the Jamaican phenom Usain Bolt, among other athletes.

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