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Sprint king Gatlin to compete in local Athletics Grand Prix meet

Veteran sprinter Justin Gatlin has thrown his hat into the inaugural Athletics Grand Prix Series in South Africa, starting from March 2018.

FILE: Justin Gatlin celebrates as he wins the Men's 100 Meter Final during Day 2 of the 2017 USA Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on 23 June 2017 in Sacramento, California. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Veteran sprinter Justin Gatlin has thrown his hat into the inaugural Athletics Grand Prix Series in South Africa, starting from March 2018.

The American sprinter is a seasoned campaigner in the 100m and 200m events. He is the reigning 100m world champion and the fifth fastest sprinter in the 100m and 200m and will line up in the men’s 150m race at Tuks Stadium on Thursday, 8 March in the second of the three series meetings.

Gatlin is the biggest name to compete on South African soil since Michael Johnson in 2001 and is set to attract a large fan base of athletics fans in the country.

The 35-year-old Gatlin says that he has never competed in the 150m event and this will be a new experience for the world champion.

“I have obviously done 150’s in training but have never raced over that distance before. It will be interesting to see how I do. It is also my first race of the season which adds to the excitement for me,”

In 2015, Gatlin set a world lead in the 100m when he broke his previous best of 9.77s to clock 9.74s for the win at the Diamond League in Doha on 15 May.

This is also his best time ever and is the fifth best on the world all time lists. That same year he would run times of 9.75s twice.

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