Gatlin to race in SA's Athletix Grand Prix

Michael Steele/Getty Images

The inaugural Athletix Grand Prix in South Africa has been boosted by the confirmation that USA sprinter Justin Gatlin will headline the second leg of the series, at Tuks Stadium in Tshwane on 8 March.

The American is the current 100m world champion after he beat Usain Bolt at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. He will compete in the second of the three legs of the series.

The 35-year-old Gatlin will line up for the 150m event, one that he has never raced before, though has 'obviously done 150s in training,' he said in an Athletics South Africa statement.

ASA president Aleck Skhosana said he hopes that the world champion's participation will inspire South African sprinters and coaches, as well as put the country on the sprinting map.

"To have an athlete of Justin Gatlin's calibre compete here against our athletes means that the world sees us as a major contender in the sprints," Skhosana said.

"It also brings other great benefits as it inspires other aspiring sprinters and beyond. It also inspires coaches to produce the calibre of sprinters along the likes of Gatlin and Akani Simbine."

Gatlin has been a figure of controversy in the past, after he was served a doping ban in 2001, and then again in 2006, before making a return to athletics in 2010.

Another medalist from last year's London championships, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, has also confirmed that he will be competing in the series. Cheptegei won the silver medal in the 10 000m, but is unsure which distance he will run in South Africa.