Our Marketing Manager, Florence, had the great pleasure of meeting gold medal winning sprinter, Justin Gatlin, while he enjoyed his stay at Grange St Pauls Hotel. Here's what he had to say about his momentous victory at the IAAF World Championships...
At the IAAF World Championships on Sunday, Justin, along with his team mate Christian Coleman (who came in second place) proved that dedication and belief in what you do is what you need to succeed.
Not only did they win back-to-back medals for the USA, but Gatlin beat the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, ending the Jamaican's reign as 100m champion.
Bolt was an inspiration to Gatlin. Five years his senior, he was a tough act to follow. “Bolt inspired me," Gatlin said. "He made me faster, made me know me and that inspiration empowered me to push forward and be the best I can be."
Justin talked candidly about the win, saying it felt like Christmas. "The build-up, the anticipation the hope that this year you will get that one present that you have dreamed of. When you write that letter and hope that Santa Claus will bring that present that you really really want. Then, Christmas morning – there it is – in a beautifully decorated box, open it up and there inside is that gift that you have dreamed of getting.
"Hearing the crowds boo was hurtful – of course, I looked up there and thought 'wow you judge me?'
"Usain said in my ear 'you don’t deserve that. Don’t listen to them! You won! Well done man!' Another athlete said to me 'let them boo, let them, because they’re all saints aren’t they? Who is that next to him? His wife? Or his secretary? Or is it the girl he met last night on Tinder? Who is that booing? The man that hasn’t paid his taxes?' "
The abundance of emotions was hard to vocalise. "It was joy," Justin said. "I couldn’t compute it for a moment because of the booing, but then, when the booing died down, I heard the cheers coming through and that was good to hear. Then I must have looked like a crazy man – I felt crazy. I was crying but it was joy. It was utter joy. I had done it! This wasn’t just a win for me, it was a win for Christian too. We both beat the greatest sprinter of all time. This is the thing that hurts – that [the booing] overshadowed the fact that USA got Gold and Silver place against Bolt from Jamaica.”
Justin Gatlin's win resulted in the whole of the world talking about the race, the Championships and what a great pleasure it is to see such buzz in London.
For a whole week prior to this event, the world's premier athletes have landed in London and have been participating in their events. Yet, this was the story that got heads turning and people talking.
Justin is an inspirational guy. He stood up there in front of a huge audience, poised in his starting blocks with a clear focus on what he wanted to achieve. I feel there is something everyone can learn from his determination and focus.
Justin Gatlin comes from humble beginnings, his Father a war veteran and his Mother a store worker. They met whilst his Father was doing a delivery to the store after he left the military. They fell in love and raised a family together.
I asked Justin what he likes to do in downtime. He responded “I love watching films." His favourite film is, the 3 hour epic The Passion of the Christ. Asked why he said “because it lets me go through every emotion. It’s got it all in there: It's horror, it’s a thriller, it’s a drama and it’s a love story too.”
I also discovered that he loves chips! I have opened his eyes to the British institution that is chips with vinegar. Now, he too loves a vinegary fluffy chip! Introducing him to such an unquestionably delicious dinner was one of the many touches myself and the Grange team put in place for our guests from across the pond. Whether you’re a world athletics champion, or not, we love to go the extra mile.
After the excitement of the Championships he is intending to go on a well-deserved break and will take a trip to New Orleans and go down the infamous Bourbon Street to see where the world takes him.
He also plans to create a foundation in New York for young athletes – giving hints and tips on how to push forward in this sport. Like all great teachers, he has learnt from his mistakes and refuses to be held back because of them, they have made him stronger and they have made him now achieve the accolade of the fastest man in the World.
I am honoured to have met him and I too feel inspired by this chap. Against all odds, after every knock, he gets back up again and fights on no matter what. He says that his humble beginnings have aided him in his dedication to being the best you can be time after time. Always succeeding and never allowing yourself to become complacent.