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Justin Gatlin running faster than ever ... in practice

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin has his sights set on the American record in the 100m this season. If he takes the mark away from Tyson Gay, Gatlin will have run faster than anybody in the world since the 2012 Olympics.

Gatlin made his ambition known in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal.

“This is the best offseason training program I have had in my whole career,” he said. “I am actually running better times in practice than I have ever run before. I feel stronger. I have worked on different techniques.

“I am going to make the last 20 meters a stronger finish. Hopefully, I will go out there and get the American record.”

Gatlin had an excellent 2013 season, beating Usain Bolt in Rome on June 6 and taking silver behind the Jamaican world record holder at the World Championships in Moscow on Aug. 11.

He is 32 years old, five years older than Bolt, and in the second half of his career after sitting out four years (and the 2008 Olympics) due to a doping suspension.

The 2004 Olympic 100m champion said he hopes to compete at the 2016 Olympics. He would be the oldest men’s 100m Olympic medalist by two years if he makes the podium in Rio de Janeiro.

And that might not be the end of his career.

“I have a dream that I even went to Tokyo, which is 2020 [Olympics], so we’ll see what happens,” Gatlin told the newspaper. “The best thing for me to do as a seasoned veteran is to stay healthy, stay strong, keep pushing myself every year.”

Gatlin will not be competing at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, beginning March 7.

That leaves the biggest potential events for Gatlin this year as the USA Outdoor National Championships in Sacramento, Calif., from June 26-29 and Diamond League meets starting in May.

Gatlin and Bolt may not race much this season, if at all, given they do not enter all Diamond League meets. Gay’s status for 2014 is up in the air as he awaits his doping discipline from last year’s failed drug tests.

Another Jamaican, Olympic 100m silver medalist Yohan Blake, is expected to return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him from the 2013 World Championships.

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