American sprinter Justin Gatlin defended his mother in front of the world when he witnessed a spectator pestering her.
“I was like, ‘Hey, chill out with that. Be a gentleman,’” Gatlin explained to the media.
He observed the harassment as he stood on the podium to accept his silver medal for the 100-meter at the world championships. After he received his medal, he “glared at someone and then pointed with his right finger.” He knew the person with his mom “wasn’t being friendly.”
“I could see it in my mom’s face,” he stressed. “Because she’s my mom.”
Gatlin received plenty of criticism at the championships due to his past. The sport suspended him for four years in 2010 due to doping. He barely lost to Usain Bolt on Sunday, but reporters constantly asked him if his loss was good:
Four straight times after his spirit-sapping defeat, Justin Gatlin heard some version of this question: Was it good for track that you lost to Usain Bolt?
Four straight times, his response was simply: ”I’m thankful.”
Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell said no one wanted the American to win. Others called the race “Good vs. Evil.” Gatlin told the Associated Press he could handle that criticism, but harassing his mother “crossed the line.”
“No one has to talk disrespectful to anybody,” he exclaimed. “We’re just here to run. They pay tickets to see us run. Let us run and do what we do.”