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Jeering fans are disrespecting athletics: says Justin Gatlin's dad

 

By Robert Jones

Justin Gatlin's father Willie claims fans who have booed the new 100m World champion are disrespecting the sport.

The 35-year-old was jeered on to the top of the podium on his return to the London Stadium on Sunday evening to be presented with his World Championship gold medal by Lord Coe.

Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, blew a kiss to the crowd and clasped his hands together as he received his medal from world athletics chief Coe, who hours earlier had branded his triumph "not the perfect script".

While the American escaped the expected barrage of boos, with plenty of cheers helping to drown out the hostile reaction, the applause was nothing in comparison to the ovation afforded to bronze medal recipient Usain Bolt.

"It (the booing) doesn't upset me because I know what kind of son I raised, what kind of character he has," Willie Gatlin said.

"The fans booing is disrespectful to the sport. The sport has always been here and is going to be here after he leaves. He created a memory that is going to be in people's minds a long time."

Willie Gatlin also believes his son is a positive role model for the sport given the nature of his comeback from his second ban, which ran for four years from 2006.

"He served his ban and he worked his heart out doing what he could," he added.

"He wasn't just lying around. He worked to come back to the sport and he worked his way back to championship form.

"For the youngsters coming up he is trying to help to tutor and help them to be good, clean athletes. He is trying to teach good character and good sportsmanship.

"I don't think he has regrets, it is a lesson learned. Everything happens for a reason and it gives you teaching moments. We have been through it all and we bear it all."

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