Justin Gatlin says the prospect of lining up for one final duel against Usain Bolt is driving his weary body as he attempts to book his place on the US team for August's World Championships. The 35-year-old former Olympic and world champion said racing against Bolt in what will be the Jamaican superstar's farewell to track and field would be "special."
"It's a part of history," Gatlin told reporters at the US trials in Sacramento.
"For me, when I made my comeback into the sport, I said to myself, 'I just want to be shoulder to shoulder with him.'
"Watching him run in the Olympics in 2008, when I was sitting at a restaurant, I said to myself, 'I want to run with that guy.'
"There's no fear -- just a total respect for how fast he is, the competition he brings. So I want to make it to these last finals."
Gatlin's rivalry with Bolt has been one of sprinting's most compelling narratives since the American returned to track and field in 2010 after a four-year doping ban, the second drug-related sanction of his career. But with the exception of a lone Gatlin victory in a Rome Diamond League meeting in 2013, the rivalry has been one-sided. Bolt leads Gatlin 8-1 in head-to-head meetings, a record which includes two Olympic and world 100m finals.
This season, Gatlin's preparations have been plagued by a series of niggling injuries that have disrupted his training.
"It set me back a couple of weeks, about three weeks. So I've just been clawing to get back to where I needed to be," Gatlin said. In the circumstances, reaching London for one last showdown with Bolt would be especially satisfying, Gatlin said.
"It would be the toughest year for me. But it would be an honor to get through and show the fortitude that I have," he said.