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“Never Seen Anybody Pass Me So Fast”: Justin Gatlin Recalls How a Kenyan Sprint Star’s Pace led him to retire from Track and Field

Rahul Goutam Hoom

“Never Seen Anybody Pass Me So Fast”: Justin Gatlin Recalls How a Kenyan Sprint Star’s Pace Made Him to Retire From Track and Field

Throughout his career, Justin Gatlin competed against several track icons before retiring in 2021. This list includes legends such as Usain Bolt, who was a major rival to the four-time world champion during the 2015 season. However, in his new Ready Set Go podcast on YouTube, the American icon recalls how Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala made him realise to hang his shoes.

When the podcast discussed Gatlin’s final race, the entire crew burst out laughing. The four-time world champion recalls having a positive conversation with Omanyala during the pre-race press conference at the Kip Keino Classic in 2021.

The Kenyan sprinter saw Gatlin as an inspiration because of the accolades that he had received over his career. The American star was taken aback by his statements, but he knew the next day they’d compete in the 100-meter event. He recalls how, during warm-up exercises, he would seek out the athletes he would be battling against in order to determine his opponents.

At that moment, he could not locate Omanyala at the Moi International Sports Centre. Gatlin realized that the Kenyan sprinter had a cramp, so he considered two possibilities for the event: Omanyala would not compete, or if he did, he would not perform to his maximum potential. However, the race presented a very different scenario.

While Trayvon Bromell led the sprint, Gatlin noticed Omanyala’s explosive pace and stole the silver medal from the American’s grasp. He also revealed his emotions during the Kip Keino Classic’s 100-meter event by saying:

“I’ve never seen anybody pass me so fast in my whole career, and that was my last race, so that was a long time. In 20 years, I’ve never seen anybody pass me that fast. He just comes and just surges, like…soon as we cross the line, I was like, ‘Yep, that’s my last race.'”

Omanyala ran a 9.77-second sprint, setting both the national and African records. Even though he finished second, it was a historic moment for him and his country, which hosted the track meet and witnessed its own athlete defeat the four-time world champion down the straight.

It was also Gatlin’s final race, as he decided to retire from the sport; yet, however, he still cherishes the rivalry he shared with his opponents and even recalls a significant moment from the 2015 season.

Justin Gatlin’s realization after he lost two world championship titles

The 2015 season was memorable because it featured an intense track rivalry between Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt. The Jamaican legend and the American icon pushed each other to their limits, but in track, there can only be one winner. The four-time world champion recalls how much excitement surrounded him and his competitor before the 2015 World Championships.

Fans hoped to see them compete in the finals of the two major categories, the 100-meter and the 200-meter, and they eventually found themselves there. Gatlin always attempted to read Bolt’s mind but was unable to do so because the athlete did not display much emotion, allowing him to conceal his strategy from his opponents.

However, in the semi-finals of the 100-meter event, the American athlete ran an impressive 9.77 seconds, the best time ever recorded in a preliminary round in the history of the World Championships and Olympics. This lifted the bar even higher, yet in the finals, Gatlin missed Bolt by only 0.01 seconds as the Jamaican icon raced through the field with a 9.79 mark.

The American athlete was defeated again in the 200-meter division, highlighting the importance of mind games on track. While he thought he had a shot against the Jamaican superstar, Bolt was already ahead of him in every manner.

About the author

Rahul Goutam Hoom

Rahul Goutam Hoom


Rahul is a US Sports Journalist at The SportsRush. Since 2022, he has covered many American sporting events, including the Kentucky Derby and other important events. Rahul's skill sets begins with the lightning-fast skating of Connor McDavid and continues with the unique surfing stints of Jamie O'Brien. When he is not busy penning excellent pieces for his readers, you can find him glued to his gaming laptop, either ranking up in Valorant or taking a shot at Honkai Star Rail.

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