July 2, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — Below we have three interviews from Saturday with three of the top sprint stars in the sport, Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix and LaShawn Merritt. Today Felix and Merritt made the 400m finals and Gatlin made it to the 100m semis.
Gatlin Talks About Bluffing It Versus Bolt at 2013 World Championships
Much of the attention for Gatlin today was on what he thought of Usain Bolt pulling out of the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Gatlin said he found out via text from a friend and thought it might be a joke at first.
Gatlin was asked if he’s ever competed with a serious injury and he said it’s a common occurrence. “When you come to a championship not everyone is going to be healthy but you’re expected to perform,” he said.
He told a story that we had not heard before, saying he ran the 2013 Worlds 100m with a grade 1 hamstring tear — the same reported injury that caused Bolt to withdraw. (He ran 9.85 to finish second to Bolt’s 9.77.) Gatlin said, “I had a grade 1 hamstring tear and I just wrapped it up with an ace bandage.” When asked what percent he thought he was, he answered, “75%. Once I got to 60m, that’s all I could hold, so I basically had to bluff my way through it.”
Women’s 400m: Allyson Felix Struggling With Ankle Injury & Vows to “Keep Fighting”
Allyson Felix has been dealing with after-effects of a freak ankle injury this year (she fell while working out on a medicine ball).
She qualified for the 400m final automatically as the second fastest qualifier in her heat. And afterwards she said, “It’s not an ideal situation for me, but I’m happy to be moving on. It’s all right, it’s not 100% but it’s ok…I tried to run my typical race but I have to go with what I have…”
Getting a bye into the Olympics like Usain Bolt would be great for Allyson but she knows that’s not how it works in America saying “If I could have another month that would be ideal, but that’s not how it goes here in America so just keep fighting.”
Jeremy Wariner Pulls Up, But Says “This is not it for me”
Jeremy Wariner pulled up coming off the final bend in lane 1 and then walked it in and got a big ovation from the crowd. Was this was like Sanya Richards-Ross the day before, who pulled up with 200m to go, and gave her farewell wave to the sport as she walked to the finish?
No. Wariner said “This is not it for me.” He just suffered a cramp today and he still wants to make the relay team for Rio. He wants to go run fast races in Europe and get put on the team. His wife is serving as his agent now and getting him in races, so she hopes she can get him in a few more. As for today he said, “I felt a little cramp and overstrided a little bit.” He’s going to run races and try and get one of the final two spots on relay.
And he noted running in lane 1 isn’t that big a deal as it is what he trains in and what relays are run in.
LaShawn Merritt on Usain Bolt “Do we need him? No. But he is good for the sport.”
LaShawn Merritt won heat 2 of the 400m semis in 45.05 and remained the favorite for the final. Interestingly, all the finalists from semi #1 beat Merritt’s time today and even 5th placer and non-qualifier Michael Cherry, who ran 44.81, bettered Merritt. We asked him how that could happen and he said it was because Gil Roberts got out very fast in heat 1 and that causes everyone else to go out faster as well and can pull them to faster times (presumably everyone could blow up but that didn’t happen).
Merritt said of his run, “I wanted to run a little faster, but considering what they ran in the first round (heat) hopefully they tired themselves out a little bit.”
When asked about Usain Bolt and whether the Olympics needed Bolt, Merritt said, “Do we need him? No. But he is good for the sport.”
Want more video from the Trials? All the Trials videos are here.