If there’s anyone that can beat Usain Bolt, “The Fastest Man Alive,” it would be USA’s Justin Gatlin.
On August 14th at approximately 9:25 p.m. Eastern Time during the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Gatlin and Bolt will compete against each other in what is known as “the most thrilling 10 seconds in sports”: the 100-meter dash.
And this match promises to be a heavyweight showdown. Gatlin is running faster than any other 34-year-old in history. Bolt has gone unbeaten in the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some call Gatlin the “ageless sprinter.” Bolt calls him “old man.”
Gatlin’s record-breaking speed is both his greatest advantage, and his greatest disadvantage.
Gatlin won the event back in Athens at the 2004 Games, but in 2006, he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was required to serve a four year ban, missing the Beijing Olympics and missing out on what was sure to be the prime of his career.
When he returned to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, Gatlin watched as Bolt snatched the gold and he returned home with bronze. At the 2015 World Championships, however, Gatlin lost out to Bolt by a mere 0.01 seconds.
For Gatlin, the 2016 Rio Olympics are not just about beating Bolt. They’re about redemption.
“The Justin now is superior to the Justin at this point in 2012,” Gatlin said after being honored by New York City Council Member Andy King. “I am a better athlete, to be honest, across the board.”
Others aren’t so sure. Many called the 2015 Championship match the race between good and evil, labeling Bolt as the hero and Gatlin as the villain. Gatlin still claims he had been “set up” and “never knowingly took steroids,” leading many to paint him as an unapologetic con. Many believe him to be a “stain” on a sport troubled by doping scandals.
Some argue he shouldn’t be competing in the Rio Games at all—including his teammates.
Distance runner Alysia Montano of Team USA has been described as one of the biggest victims of the Russian doping scandal, losing out on four medals to rivals who subsequently failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs. At the U.S. Olympic team media summit back in March, Montano told reporters she believed the team should have a “zero tolerance” policy, barring from selection athletes who were proven cheaters, including teammates Tyson Gay and Gatlin.
There’s no doubt this will be the biggest race of Gatlin’s life. Win or lose to Usain Bolt, his legacy is on the line.
Watch round one of the 100m dash at 11:00 am ET Saturday, August 13th. The semifinal and final races will begin at 8:07 pm ET Sunday night.
Watch Gatlin’s emotional interview after losing to Usain Bolt in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing:
How to Live Stream Bolt and Gatlin’s 100m Dash Showdown:
NBCUniversal’s networks and digital platforms will be showing nearly 7,000 hours of programing over 19 days during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will also live stream coverage of the Games for pay TV subscribers via TV Everywhere. You can download the NBC Sports app to your Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox or Roku or use the iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps.
You can also live stream Olympic matches from NBC here.