Gatlin set to lock horns with Jobodwana at Tuks

Justin Gatlin (Getty Images)
Justin Gatlin (Getty Images)

Cape Town - World 100m champion Justin Gatlin and 2015 World Championship 200m bronze medalist Anaso Jobodwana will come face-to-face for the third time in their careers on Thursday at the Athletix Grand Prix series meeting at Tuks Stadium, Tshwane.

The American is currently leading the head-to-head's 2-0.

The first time they met was at the Pregontaine meeting in Eugene, Oregon on May 30 2015. The two came face-to-face again in the 200m final at the World Championships in Beijing that year.

In Eugene, Gatlin raced away to a 19.68 seconds win to the second place of Jobodwana who clocked a then national record of 20.04 seconds.

At the 2017 World Championships, it was again the American who edged Jobodwana as they finished second and third respectively in 19.74 seconds and 19.87 seconds behind Usain Bolt.

Now they face off again. This time in Tshwane on Thursday, March 8 at the second meeting of the Athletix Grand Prix over the seldom run 150m.

For Jobodwana this will be the seventh race of 2018, while for Gatlin it will be his first of the season. Jobodwana has yet to lose a race this season and is coming back into the form that saw him run under 20sec for the 200m at the 2015 World Championships.

The 150m promises to be a showdown of epic proportions and Jobodwana is itching to line up against Gatlin.

"I want to beat him before he retires. He has about two more years before he hangs up his spikes, so I need to beat him sooner rather than later. I have huge respect for Gatlin, he is not a world champion for nothing. But this is my home and this would be a great opportunity to get a win over him," said Jobodwana, who has been training at Tuks for the past three weeks.

Gatlin too has immense respect for South African sprinters and is expecting a tough battle against Jobodwana.

"It's really great what is happening in South African sprints right now and I have massive respect for Wayde (van Niekerk), Akani (Simbine) and Anaso (Jobodwana). I know Anaso comes through strongly in the end, I saw that at the World's in 2015 where he came flying through in the final 50m. So I know it will be a tough race on Thursday, especially as he will be in front of his home crowd and I can expect him to put on a good show."

Gatlin and Jobodwana will also have Gatlin's training partner, Trentavis Friday and former SA 100m record holder, Simon Magakwe to contend with.

Friday has been in-country for a week now and would have been able to deal with the effects of jetlag to a large degree. 

Magakwe is fresh from his 100m win over Henricho Bruintjies at the first meeting in Roodepoort last week Thursday.

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