Sprint legends Asafa Powell & Justin Gatlin offer insights on what ails modern sprinters

Justin Gatlin (C) and Asafa Powell (R) in a past race against Akani Simbine (L)

Sprint legends Asafa Powell & Justin Gatlin offer insights on what ails modern sprinters

Mark Kinyanjui 14:20 - 09.06.2024

Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin have revealed what modern-day sprinters lack compared to their days as elite competitors.

Former sprinting greats Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin have opined the attribute about modern sprinters that is missing compared to their days at the top level of the sport.

Powell and Gatlin created a rivalry over the years in the quest to become the prime sprinter of the sport, and raced at a time when there was a golden generation of genuinely competitive short-distance runners in their time, including Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake.

Gatlin is a highly decorated sprinter, winning the 2004 Olympic gold in the 100 meters and multiple World Championship titles, including the 100 meters in 2005 and 2017, the 200 meters in 2005, and the 4 x 100 meters relay in 2019.

 He is also a two-time World Indoor Champion in the 60 meters and has amassed a total of 5 Olympic medals and 12 World Championship medals throughout his career. 

Additionally, Gatlin has secured two gold medals at the World Athletics Relays and is a three-time Diamond League Champion in the 100 meters, achieving this feat consecutively from 2013 to 2015.

Powell, a specialist in the 100 meters, set the world record twice with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds and has broken the 10-second barrier more than anyone else, doing so 97 times.

 He also holds the world record for the 100-yard dash at 9.09 seconds and became an Olympic champion in the 4 x 100 meters relay in 2016.

During their racing days, athletes had a reputation for being tall, which made them intimidating before racing, unlike today, where they are not as imposing figures physically.

In a sit down with Gatlin on his YouTube channel The Powells, Powell, who stands at a monsterous 1.91 meters, with Gatlin standing at 1.85m, opined what is now missing in the sport, drawing reference to how his height used to give him an advantage.

“I did not know how big I was until I saw some pictures,” Powell said on his The Powells YouTube channel.

“When the athletes were being announced from lane one, when it got to my lane, the camera had to go all the way up in the air.”

Gatlin was quick to agree with Powell, drawing sprinting parallels to the music industry which has also changed today.

“He is a big dude. When he ran, he was actually bigger. It looked like an optical illusion and like he was closer to the camera, but he was actually bigger.

“I think that this era of runners do not particularly care about being intimidating. I think the persona is more about the flash, what I got, what I can do, what I am good at, that kind of stuff.

“Track and sports in general kind of goes hand in hand with rap music, to be honest. Back then, it was Tupac, Biggie, it was gangster rap, it was more like rap, DMX, that kind of stuff. 

“That is what we warmed up to. Now, they are warming up to like, I got the rolly on my wrist, ice on my neck, that kind of stuff.”

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