American sprinter Justin Gatlin who won the 100m race at the Jamaican Invitational on Saturday says athletic fans in this Caribbean island are capable of inflaming global track and field passion.
Gatlin, who got the better of Jamaican pair Andrew Fisher, 10.21 and Nesta Carter, 10.22, to stop the clock in 10.11 seconds, has described track and field fans on the island as passionate and encouraged them to show that passion to the world.
“My message to the Jamaican people is thank you and keep showing the world what passion really means,” said Gatlin, who received a mixed reaction from the near 15,000 spectators inside the National Stadium.
“That’s what we need in track and field. If we can teach the world what passion really is, I think track and field can take over all the other countries”.
Gatlin believes the strong headwind inside the National Stadium during the men’s 100 metres robbed the crowd of a spectacle at Saturday’s event.
“I wanted to put on a show but because of the headwind it became really difficult,” said Gatlin, the Olympic bronze and World Championships silver medallist.
“If we had better wind or turned it around (direction of the race), I think we would have seen something really good here”.
The American, who had to chase down fast starting University of Technology (UTech) student, Andrew Fisher, also had some words of encouragement for the young Jamaican.
“I think that Fisher is a brave athlete to be able to run with someone like Nesta Carter, myself, Weir — athletes, who have put out great times in the last couple of years,” he said.
“To be able to seize the moment and make an impression like he did especially in the early stages is a sign of bravery”.