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Gatlin ready for 150m debut in South Africa

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Justin Gatlin may be the world 100 metres champion with a decade of experience behind him, but the American says he is feeling like a rookie again.

A trip to South Africa is firing up the top-ranked sprinter, he told Reuters.

"I've never been to South Africa, I've never run a competitive 150 and I've never run this early when I didn't compete indoors," Gatlin said in a telephone interview from his Florida home. All that changes on Thursday when the 2004 Olympic champion competes in the Athletix Grand Prix Series in Pretoria, South Africa.

"It's exciting," said the American, not long past his 36th birthday.

"You get that nervousness but also excitement. It makes you feel like a rookie again.

"I actually jumped at the opportunity when my agent called. We've got hundreds of 100 metres to run and we can run a 200 anytime so I said let's run a 150. Let's go out there and see what it feels like."

There is no official record in the infrequently contested event, but retired Jamaican 100 and 200 metres world record holder Usain Bolt set the world best, a flashy 14.35 seconds he ran at Manchester, England in 2009.

Gatlin would not speculate on how fast he might run.

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