Eugene: In the sweet sunshine of an often-rainy Oregon, Justin Gatlin wore a beaming smile and was handing out the hugs on Sunday after shaking off the spectre of a doping ban to put himself in the mix for a medal at the London Games.

Winning a return trip to the Olympics in a life-time 100 metres best of 9.80 seconds at the U.S. trials eight years after claiming the 2004 gold in Athens will do that for you, but Gatlin said his journey had only just begun.

"A lot of people are saying the comeback is here, but I feel like until I make it to that podium at the Olympics and fulfill my dreams... that is my goal," said the 30-year-old, who was banned for four years from 2006.

Trials runner-up and U.S. record holder Tyson Gay will forge a formidable partnership with Gatlin as the rest of the world continues to seek a match for the twin Jamaican threat of world record holder Usain Bolt and world champion Yohan Blake.

"We are definitely competitors at heart," Gatlin said of Gay. "I am glad he is back, and I am glad he is healthy."

"It is not going to take just one person," added the confident Gatlin, whose next race will be rematch with Gay in Paris in July.

"I can't say I am going to take down the world or the Jamaicans by myself. It is going to take an arsenal, starting with myself, Tyson, Ryan Bailey (third in the trials) and whoever else is going to step up to the plate."

He had said previously the world might be ready to see someone else in the mix other than Bolt and Blake.

The remark brought a polite rebuttal from Bolt.

"I don't want to sound rude but I think Gatlin's had his chance," the world record holder said. "He's been on top, but to say 'Get ready for the Gatlin show' is funny."

With a little more than a month remaining before the Opening Ceremony on July 27, the verbal volleys between the pair are likely to grow louder until they can let their legs do the talking on the track.


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