Justin Gatlin does not plan to race the 200m at any major meet next season, his agent confirmed Thursday.
“The reasoning is to preserve the wear and tear on his body,” agent Renaldo Nehemiah said in an email of Gatlin, who is 34 years old. “Everyone knows he can run a 200m. There’s nothing to prove by running it. And it lessens the chance for getting injured. Nothing is an absolute. But, that’s the plan as of now.”
Gatlin surprisingly failed to make the Rio Olympic 200m final, after taking silver in the 100m three days earlier. The three-time Olympian severely rolled his ankle the previous offseason and said after his 200m semifinal in Rio that it acted up.
“All that torque that you have to go around the track [running the curve on the 200m], it kind of weighed on me,” Gatlin said last Thursday at the USA Track and Field gala in Manhattan.
Gatlin took silver behind Usain Bolt in the 200m at the 2015 World Championships and ran five of the world’s six fastest times in the event over 2014 and 2015.
Gatlin won the Olympic Trials 200m in 19.75 seconds, which was .01 off LaShawn Merritt‘s fastest time in the world for 2016.
Bolt is also expected to race only the 100m at 2017 Worlds, though his coach reportedly still wants him to do the 100m-200m double.
“It’s not about beating Usain,” Gatlin said last Thursday. “It’s about getting on that podium and getting as many medals as I can. If that means taking down Usain, so be it. There’s so many other guys jockeying for position now just to get on that podium. So it’s become harder just to stay on the podium.”
In the absence of Bolt and Gatlin, the early 200m favorites for the 2017 World Championships would be Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, Merritt and Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, who reportedly said he is considering a 200m-400m double next year.