Gatlin's 'new technique'


RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Justin Gatlin is learning how to sprint again, a fact that has little to do with the American’s four-year absence from athletics under a doping ban.

With a new coach and a new philosophy on running, the former Olympic and world champion is working hard to get back to top speed.

“Everything I learned I had to throw it out the window and learn a whole new technique,” Gatlin told Reuters in a telephone interview from Naples, Florida.
Maximum velocity is now his aim.

“Maximum velocity is your top end running speed, the maximum speed you can generate down the track,” said Gatlin’s new coach, Loren Seagrave.

“Although people spend a heck of a lot of time on the start, it (maximum velocity) is the single biggest determinant of who wins and who doesn’t win,” said the veteran coach.

“Particularly in the men’s races, as they are looking at dipping well into the 9.5s, because people are not decelerating any more. The only reason they are decelerating is because of celebration,” Seagrave added.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100 meters champion and 200 meters bronze medalist, has not competed since 2006 when, then coached by Trevor Graham, he failed a doping test for excessive amounts of testosterone, the second positive of his career.

He was banned for two years in 2001 for a failed test for amphetamines, but the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) reduced the suspension to one year after Gatlin pointed out the substance was found in medication he had taken since childhood for attention deficit disorder.

His current ban expires on July 24.

“I have a second chance to redeem myself,” said the soon-to-be 28-year-old. “To go out and prove to the world that I am a great athlete.”


The goal was to have Gatlin running some of the fastest times in the world by late August and early September, Seagrave said.

“He has got all the physical tools to be able to run in the (9.)70s, maybe even the 60s,” the coach said.

It could be up to 18 months before Gatlin reached his full potential, Seagrave stressed.

Fast 100 meters times will be necessary for Gatlin to keep up with today’s top sprinters – Jamaican double world record holder Usain Bolt, American world silver medalist Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world record holder.

“I could beat them before,” Gatlin said. “I don’t see why I can’t run with them. Times don’t scare me. You’ve got to respect the times but I feel if one man can do it, then the next man can.”

His personal best of 9.85 seconds and even his 2006 world record-equaling 9.77 seconds that was nullified by his doping ban are significantly slower, however, than the best marks of Bolt (9.58 seconds) and Gay (9.69).

“I think he’s going to have his hands full, not only by me and Asafa and Tyson, but other young and upcoming athletes,” Bolt told the Jamaica Observer.

Gatlin, though, said he did not believe his age or long absence would be a deterrent.

“I think that me sitting out for this while, having this hiatus, has elongated my life in the sport,” he said. “I think it is prime time for me.”

Whether the 2005 double sprint world champion will run again in prime time one-day meetings is debatable.

Organizers of the new Diamond League circuit and key European meetings have agreed in principle not to invite athletes who have served major doping bans.

“If that’s how they feel at this point, that is how they feel,” Gatlin said. "Hopefully (if) they want excitement at their track, they want fast times and good competition, they will see past those kinds of things.

“I feel that it is so wrong for different meets to try to blackball people when these people have been weighed and they have served their time.”


Both the IAAF and USA Track & Field (USATF) said they would not interfere with organizers determining who competes in their meetings.

“Meet directors have always had the freedom to use their own discretion as to whom they invite,” USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer said in an e-mail.

The IAAF had a similar reaction. “Our position is simply that the athlete is eligible after coming back from doping suspension, and we don’t interfere with the choice of individual meeting directors,” spokesman Nick Davies said.

Gatlin has repeatedly denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs and has severed all links with Graham, who was banned for life from coaching after being convicted of lying to federal agents in connection with the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) doping scandal.

Twice last year, USATF sent Gatlin to tell his story to small groups of young athletes, focusing on the importance of competing clean and the consequences of failing a doping test.

“We felt that young athletes could learn from Justin’s mistakes,” Geer said.

Gatlin tried out for several National Football League (NFL) teams without success before deciding to stay in athletics.

“It was like, why should I be someone like a walk-on or someone trying to make his way up to the top, when I can go back to a sport where I once was a king,” Gatlin said.

“I can’t be without track, and hopefully track can’t be without me too long.”

Sounds a lot like the talk you hear at the drags.

Dipping into the 9.5s cause you’re not decelerating? WTF. That contradicts the premise of Max V in the same few sentences.
You can go at 11.4mps till you run from New York to LA and you won’t run 9.5. Mx Vel IS a key feature BUT that was already the case when Gatlin was on top and it has simply advanced.
What, I wonder, has been introduced to Gatlin that is so radically different that he needs to throw out everything that got him into the 9.70s and start from scratch and can such a radical change be good?

Well we see what master Seagrave did for Ben…

Maybe it’s just semantics. They need to have a common understanding from a common language.

I only met Justin once, when he came off the track at Athens OG and although we only spoke for a minute or so, he was very humble, looked me in the eyes, had the world’s biggest smile, spoke articulately and courteously. I thought then he was the best thing that could have happened to track. So I hope he hasn’t lost those gracious qualities and that he returns to find fulfilment and maybe even success again.

What did you think of Gatlin’s technique while with Trevor?

I personally think he’ll come back slower, like basically every athlete that comes back from a ban.

Perhaps a bit overstriding though slight enough to get away with but the changes likely to occur here will be a disaster (You know the drill- keep the hands below the shoulders during forward drive and pull the arms staight back, hunch the shoulders forward, paw the ground, etc, etc.)
Often it is the changes incorporated that spell doom in returning athletes.

I recall you personally trying to prevent a problem by initiating a meeting between the old and new coach in a very similar situation. The new coach ignored all advice/evidence/experience with disastrous consequences.

Yes, Sadly. You could say the meeting was a success, but the athlete bombed.

The latest stats (in Berlin) didn’t show that, comparing the 60-80m with 80-100m sections.
Bolt 9.58 : 1.61 - 1.66
Gay 9.71 : 1.63 - 1.69
Powell 9.84 : 1.68 - 1.74
No one was celebrating in that race.
MaxVel during the race is still the best predictor of the ranking at 100m, better than accel or speed maintenance/deceleration.

I’d be very interested to see this ‘new technique’ in action, especially as I was a massive fan of his technique. Rangy stride…almost like he was bounding down the track. Charlie how would you describe in coaching cues a way to run like that? Would you have changed it if he was with you? What is it that he does from the blocks that makes him look so different to other sprinters? Richard Thompson starts in that particular way also.

I am no Charlie but a few years back I was teaching an athlete to start in a similar fashion and had a senior level 5 coach half way down the track poke fun at us. This coach approached the athlete later and told him if he asked him in front of witnesses he would coach him.

I think sometimes coaches have to say something to appear different and brilliant,but the results in the last few years are not bad for Seagrave…his camp seems to be quite interesting, with Dwight Phillips leading the pack, including:
Melisa Barber, Joice Maduaka, Danielle Carruthers, Walter Davis, Perdita Felicien, Ebony Floyd, Justin Gatlin, Travis Padgett, Avard Moncur, Dwight Phillips, Angelo Taylor

The coach had/has never produced a top male sprinter and each that has been inherited has bombed out soon after starting.

I see the work of a lot of different coaches gathered in one place (John Smith, Charles Poliquin, Trevor Graham, Gary Winkler, Innocent Egbuniki, Todd Lane, Thomas Johnson, Clemson Univ, to name a few) but have any in there been produced by him?

You got it. Do you want to comment on the recruiting frenzy going on here?

Dwight did have his best year last year, at an advanced age and after some rather mediocre years.

Can’t say much about the others.

I can’t comment on recruiting because this is not my best part. I’m not a good recruitor. Maybe i should go into warm-up pitches and interrupt athlete-coach conversations to introduce myself to the athlete and give my business card.

I agree on Dwight Philips…having him lose some weight helped for sure…I saw him in the warm up area and on the massage table in a Golden league meet in 2006…his hams were freakingly huge!Upper body also…and it seems he got even bigger in the following 2 years…and in the long Jump that could have impaired his performance.

Been told it is not as messy if you get your athletes to do it for you.