In the fall of 2000, Gatlin arrived at University of Tennessee as a good high school 110 m hurdler. After training and competing in UT's program for two years under the guidance of former Vol assistant Vince Anderson, Gatlin won six consecutive NCAA titles. In fall 2002, Gatlin left Tennessee after his sophomore season to join the professional ranks. Just two years later, he won the gold medal in the 100 m (9.85 s) in the 2004 Summer Olympics, narrowly beating Francis Obikwelu of Portugal and the defending champion Maurice Greene. He also won a bronze medal in a USA sweep of the 200 m race, and a silver medal as a member of the 4 x 100 m relay squad. In the 2005 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, he again triumphed over 2003 champion Kim Collins, capturing the gold medal in the 100 m.
Gatlin's Olympic 100 m final time is the second fastest in Olympic history, and his fastest recorded 200 m time of 19.86 seconds, although wind-aided, is the fastest mark for a junior (under 20) athlete.
On August 7, 2005 Gatlin clocked a 100 m time of 9.88 seconds to win the World Championship in Helsinki. Starting as favourite and with world record holder Asafa Powell not competing due to injury, Gatlin beat his competitors by the widest time margin ever seen at a men's World Championship 100m to hold the Olympic-World Championship double. Gatlin also won the 200 m becoming only the second person in athletics history to win both sprint distances during a single World Championships (the first was Maurice Greene in 1999). In the 200 m event, the USA finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, the first time this has ever happened in World Championship athletics history
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