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In the world of track and field, the rivalry on the track is as intense as the camaraderie off it. Among the iconic contenders, the one between former athletes Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and USA’s Justin Gatlin captivated track fans for years. This rivalry reached its zenith at the 2016 Olympics during the 100-meter dash, when Usain Bolt and Gatlin engaged in an electrifying competition.

Gatlin, with five Olympic medals and twelve World Championship medals to his name, openly acknowledged, “After we left the sport, there was a realization that Bolt helped me become a better athlete, and vice versa.” Despite his speed, however, the veteran Gatlin recently made a bold remark directed at an NFL record-holder.

Justin Gatlin challenges NFL record-breaking speedster

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In a post on X by the NFL Xavier Worthy was hailed for setting the 40-yard dash record at 4.21 seconds at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. This time, it broke the previous record of 4.22 seconds set by John Ross III in 2017, and Worthy reached a top speed of 24.41 mph during his record-breaking run. The caption of the NFL’s post read, “XAVIER WORTHY HOLDS THE NEW 40-YARD DASH RECORD.”

However, unimpressed by the 22-year-old wide receiver Worthy, track and field veteran Justin Gatlin reposted the update and shared, “I’m running faster.” Renowned as the fifth fastest man on earth, Justin Gatlin ranks at No. 5 with a speed of 9.74 seconds in the 100m. Given that 100 meters equates to nearly 109.36 yards, Gatlin’s claim seems plausible. Reflecting on recent comparisons of track and field speeds, it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time such discussions have arisen.

How Usain Bolt was pitted against a footballer

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Track legend Usain Bolt still holds the world record for the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds, set in 2009. Just a day ago, BBC Sport compared the speed of Bolt and Kylian Mbappe, who plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain and the French national team. During a Champions League Round of 16 match between PSG and Real Sociedad, Mbappe’s speed was estimated to be around 10.9 seconds for a 100-meter sprint.

Read more: Alexander Doom Extends Golden Gesture Towards Fellow Track Star After Making Waves at the World Indoors

While this figure was remarkably close to Bolt’s record, the comparison drew criticism from fans and athletes alike, highlighting the nuanced differences between track and field sprints and those occurring within the context of a football match. World Athletics took a jab at BBC Sport’s comparison. They shared a picture of Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce laughing with a caption implying that Mbappe’s time wasn’t impressive in comparison to their speeds, writing, “10.90? That’s cute”.

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As the comparison of speeds between track and field athletes and those of other sports continues to be debated, fans await the opportunity for Gatlin to substantiate his assertion by participating in the dash itself. What do you think about his bold claim? Could Justin Gatlin surpass Xavier Worthy? Comment below!

Also read: Road to Paris 2024: Not Long After Shattering Michael Phelps’ Record, 21-Year Old French Athlete Looks Forward to Taking the Podium Spot