Just Gatlin was born on February 10, 1982 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Pensacola, Florida. In High school, he was the best hurdler on the team, helping his team win the state championship. His overwhelming potential caught the eye of University of Tennessee coaches where he was offered a scholarship, and that’s where it all began in 2002.
During his two years competing for University of Tennessee, Gatlin took home six consecutive NCAA championship titles. Afterwards, Gatlin left UT to become a professional athlete.
In the year 2001, Gatlin was accused of using amphetamines, resulting in two year ban from internationally competing. He appealed saying that the positive test was because of his Attention Deficit Disorder medication, which led to the ban being lifted early by the IAAF.
During the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Gatlin was crowned the gold medal for the 100 meter dash with a remarkable time of 9.85 seconds. He also brought back a bronze in the 200m and a silver as one of the athletes competing in the USA 4 x 100 m relay team.
In 2006, Gatlin tested positive for ‘doping’ or using performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from competing internationally. Gatlin maintained his innocence claiming he did not intentionally take anything to boost his athletic performance. However, he agreed to an eight year ban and the annulment of his 9.77 100 meter sprint world record, in turn avoiding a lifetime suspension by cooperating with the anti-doping officials. Later, the ban was reduced to four years and Gatlin continued to deny any intentional ‘doping’ usage.
During his four-year hiatus, he tried out with several NFL teams, and although he was an impressive athlete he did not sign with any teams. He also admitted to not being as focused on his craft, and gaining eighteen pounds.
After making it through successfully in the semi-finals, Justin Gatlin is back and ready to win as much as ever. This 2012 London Olympics, although Gatlin could not beat out competition from defending champion Usain Bolt and fellow countryman Yohan Blake, Gatlin put USA on the podium with his bronze medal and a time of 9.79 seconds.
Gatlin’s impressive story and turn of events showcase his persistence, dedication, and the ability to overcome any challenges, highlighting the qualities a true Olympian should embody.