Justin Gatlin: Team USA sprinter relaxed ahead of showdown with Usain Bolt

justin gatlin rio olympics wire interview_00002727
justin gatlin rio olympics wire interview_00002727

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Story highlights

  • Justin Gatlin will challenge Usain Bolt for sprint dominance at Rio 2016
  • The American has twice served doping suspension
  • Gatlin won 100 meters gold at the Athens 2004 Games

Rio de Janeiro (CNN)The world will be watching his rivalry with Usain Bolt, but Justin Gatlin just wants to have a good time at the 2016 Olympic Games.

The American, infamous for having twice served doping bans, is viewed as the main obstacle between the Jamaican and a historic "triple triple" of sprint gold medals.
    Bolt told reporters Thursday that Gatlin would "feel his full wrath" when both athletes take to the track at Rio's Olympic Stadium, but Gatlin is keeping focused.
    "I'm just coming here and just do what I need to do, which is run, enjoy myself and make my way through the finals and get on top of that podium," the 34-year-old told CNN Friday ahead of his third Games, where he will run the 100/200 meters and 4x100m relay.
    With Gatlin now a veteran and Bolt suggesting he could retire after next year's world championships in London, this could be the last time fans get to see the pair go head-to-head in a major competition.
    But Gatlin insists that's not on his mind, preferring instead to focus on his preparation for the 100m heats, which begin on August 13.
    "You know, I really haven't thought about it," he said. "It's an Olympics, it's going to be special, so I know everyone's going to bring their 'A' game. So I've got to make sure I'm ready."
    And although he already has a 100m gold from Athens 2004 in his back pocket, as well as two world titles, Gatlin's desire to win has not deteriorated with age.
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    When asked how he feels on the eve of the Games, Gatlin replies: "Hungry."
    "This is my third Olympics, so I'm bringing the fun, carefree Justin Gatlin from 2004 and the 'honored to be here' Justin Gatlin from 2012," he adds.
    "When I go out there I'm just going to celebrate and have a great time."