Tyson Gay was so choked up, he couldn’t speak. Justin Gatlin was so happy he struggled to find the right words.
Once again, Gay walked away empty-handed from the Olympics when he finished fourth in the 100-metre final that was dominated by Usain Bolt last night.
“I tried, man,” Gay said as tears streamed down his face.
“I tried my best.”
With Gatlin, it was never about effort, only whether he would get another chance. He made the most of it, chasing Bolt and his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake to the wire, before finishing with the bronze.
Eight years ago, Gatlin was on top of the sprint world after winning gold in Athens.
But he tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, leading to a four-year ban that prevented him from defending his title in Beijing.
At 30, Gatlin wasn’t sure he would be in this position again. He had envisioned a comeback, but never anything quite like this.
He blazed out of the blocks on Sunday, picked up steam midway through the race and held off Gay — along with Ryan Bailey — to take third in a personal-best time of 9.79 seconds. He needed that, too, because Gay finished 0.01 seconds behind.
“It just feels good to be back,” Gatlin said. “I’m here — another eight years later. My road and my journey coming back — I’ve been through a lot.
“There were people out there, on Twitter, Facebook and on my email, who did envision there was another medal for me. I’m glad I believed in them, because they believed in me so much.”