View from the sofa: And lo, on the sixth day did Justin Gatlin run faster than ever in his 32 years

Diamond League Athletics BBC 3

When will the point come when people simply give up on athletics? When a sprinter bends down to assume the start position only for a bottle of pills to burst out of his pocket and go scattering all over the track? When a runner does a Maradona and screams, bug-eyed, into a camera after merely winning a heat?

Or how about when a two-time drug cheat, well the wrong side of 30, somehow finds a way to run his fastest 200 metres time on, say, a balmy July night in Monaco?

Guess which of the above actually happened in Friday’s Diamond League event. And it stretched our suspension of disbelief to the limit – along with Steve Cram’s, to judge by his commentary.

You could hear the incredulity in Cram’s voice after Justin Gatlin weaved and wobbled to the fastest 200m this year by a massive margin, putting him into the top 10 of all time. As the American crossed the line for the first sub-20sec 200m in his life, Cram said: “19.68, goodness me, into a headwind… you’re kidding me! He was struggling to control that all the way round the bend and he still runs 19.68.

“The strutting Justin Gatlin, another controversial figure. Two drug bans in his career and somehow he is running faster than he has ever done before. At the age of 32 he has produced a remarkable performance here.”

It was brave commentary from Cram, especially as it was live at prime time, on the host broadcaster for the Commonwealth Games, which start on Wednesday. A welcome departure from promoting the “product”; Cram was spelling out what many were thinking.

It was something that Colin Jackson, who with Gabby Logan was presenting the meeting, could learn from.

There is an adage that people who report on sport, whether it is on television, in the paper or online, have two facets. On one hand there is the dispassionate, cynical hack, ready to ignore the hype and doubt anything. Then there is the fan inside. With Jackson, the latter is dominant.

As the runners lined up for the 200m, the camera swept across Tyson Gay, just returned from a truncated drug ban. Jackson remarked that his presence was “slightly controversial”, before Logan interrupted him, saying: “No, it is controversial.”

After the event he spoke of Gatlin’s “sensational” year. “Incredible, incredible time,” he gushed. “He will be thinking to himself ‘wow’ when he goes to bed tonight.”

Logan again cut in. “With his past in mind – and this is not a cynical question – but at the age of 32 what is he doing to run these sorts of times?” Jackson ploughed on. “It is about the consistency an athlete needs, you need to expose yourself to these kind of competitions.” American Tyson Gay received a one-year reduced ban for testing positive to steroids American Tyson Gay received a one-year reduced ban for testing positive to steroids

We’d love to believe Jackson. If he is right, Gatlin’s is a heart-warming story of redemption, just as the yarn that the world was made in six days is credible for some. But, sadly, all the race did for Cram and many viewers was sorely test their faith.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Buyer / Planner

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity has ar...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity working ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Journals Manager

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The prime focus of the role is to assist...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks