Idol Gatlin subjected to 'messed up' boos, says Coleman
Justin Gatlin remains an idol for Christian Coleman, who feels the jeers the 35-year-old has been subjected to at the IAAF World Championships in London are "messed up".
Coleman, a 21-year-old who is competing in his first Championships, took silver behind Gatlin in Saturday's 100 metres final - the pair forcing Usain Bolt to settle for bronze in the Jamaican great's last individual outing on the track.
As Bolt's main rival in a personal quest to take athletics to new heights, and twice having served bans for doping violations, Gatlin has been cast as the villain and was jeered at Rio 2016 and here in London.
Gatlin put a finger to his lips in a gesture of silence after crossing the line, before the veteran American played down the impact the negative reception had on him.
Coleman suggested Gatlin's rivalry with Bolt has resulted in him bearing the brunt of the scorn levelled against the numerous athletes who have failed drugs tests, although the intensity notably decreased at Sunday's medal ceremony.
The newcomer exclusively told Omnisport: "Since him and Bolt are at the top and they're competitors, people just like to pin him as the bad guy and make Bolt the hero and really that's not the case.
"It's not a bad rivalry and I think there's been a lot of people that have been suspended and come back and people cheer for them.
"People make mistakes but he did his time and that was so long ago and I'm not sure really why people booed him.
"For me, knowing him personally, he's a great guy, a great competitor and he put the work in just like we all did and he deserved it.
"It's kind of messed up but he handled himself well. When people hate on you the only thing you can do to make them be quiet is to just keep winning and that's pretty much what he did. That was his mindset."
Gatlin reclaimed the title he won once previously at Helsinki in 2005, with victory coming 12 years on from his maiden 100m triumph at the Olympic Games in Athens.
Such longevity marks the 35-year-old as one of the best to have competed in the event and provides Coleman with something to aspire to.
"That's why he's one of the greats. He's someone that I still look up to this day even though we are competitors, because he has been in the sport for so long," he said.
"I know the feeling of just this season and the toll it took on my body and for him to be able to endure year after year at the top and be competitive, that's a crazy accomplishment.
"If I was to be able to accomplish half of that, that'll be great for me."