DOHA – The absence of Jamaican great Usain Bolt from the world athletics championships for the first time in 16 years is being felt in the 100m sprint but paves the way for new faces to make their mark, his rival Justin Gatlin said on Friday.
Bolt, who won eight Olympic gold medals and led Jamaica through a golden era in sprinting, retired after the 2017 world championships.
"Not having him here feels weird," said Gatlin, the defending world champion who won his first round heat with 10.06 seconds in Doha. "To be out there on the track to push myself, and have someone out there to push me to be my best."
Gatlin said that strong competitors in the men's 100m - including compatriot Christian Coleman and Zharnel Hughes of Britain - were making it difficult to predict who would win gold.
"It's not like I'm in lane five and I've got to worry about Usain in lane four," Gatlin said. "I've got to worry about all the other lanes around me. That's the exciting part of track and field."