Usain Bolt made the sign of the cross, pointed to the heavens, and kissed his skinny fingertips. Two lanes over stood Justin Gatlin, his thick shoulders filling out his bright-red team USA tank top, diamond studs in his ears. He was as somber and focused as Bolt was loose. The runners set their feet in their respective blocks and placed their fingers on the track, waiting for the gun.
Like Bolt, Gatlin had tasted Olympic glory before, having won gold at the 2004 games. But that was a lifetime ago—before a ruinous 2006 doping ban, before authorities annulled his world record and exiled him from the sport for four years, and before the 2008 Summer Olympics when Bolt burst onto the scene, running the 100-meter dash in an unthinkable 9.69 seconds, leaving the entire field behind him and erasing any thought of Gatlin.
It had been a long road back.
*To read the whole story about Justin Gatlin as well as stories about the technologies that Olympians like Ryan Lochte and Allyson Felix use to earn a spot on the podium, pick up the July/August 2016 issue of Seniorhelpline on newsstands, or click to subscribe to the digital edition. Check out the alternate cover of the magazine with Ryan Lochte below.