PARIS – World champion sprinter Justin Gatlin ended a 100-meter race limping and holding his left thigh just three weeks ahead of the defense of his title at the world championships.
In the race, which took place in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, the 37-year-old Gatlin suddenly winced in pain around the 80-meter mark, finished fourth with a time of 10.29 seconds and left the track supported by a fellow athlete.
American Michael Rodgers won the race in a wind-assisted 10.04 seconds.
Veteran sprinter Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100-meter gold medalist who served a doping ban between 2006-2010, is a longstanding fixture on the track who continues to show his enduring prowess.
Gatlin won the world title in London in 2017 ahead of fellow American Christian Coleman — in the spotlight after charges were dropped against him for missing three drug tests — and now-retired Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt.
Not only is Gatlin plotting to defend his title in Doha, but he is treating the competition as a warmup for a fourth Olympic Games campaign at Tokyo 2020.