Sun, Oct 01, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Gatlin will not take a knee in Brazil race

AP, RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil

Justin Gatlin, center, runs with children from the Mangueira neighborhood in Brazil ahead of the “Mano a Mano” challenge, a 100m race at the Hipodromo da Gavea racecourse in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

World sprint champion Justin Gatlin will not be taking a knee in protest this weekend at an exhibition race in Brazil.

However, Gatlin said on Friday that does not mean he is against highlighting issues of racial injustice that many NFL players are trying to raise in the US.

“I’m going to stand up. I mean, I going to stand up,” he said.

“I’m not saying if I take the knee or stand up that I’m for the protests,” or against them, he added.

Gatlin, who won the 100m in the world championships in August in a London final which included Usain Bolt, expressed mixed emotions.

He said his father, Willie Gatlin, was a 26-year member of the US army and he was taught military patriotism.

On the other hand, as an African-American he said it was “time to put things in order” in terms of fairness and equality.

“We as Americans, we are staying away from the narrative,” he said. “And the real question is why are we staying away from the narrative.”

Gatlin’s agent Renaldo Nehemiah said his athlete might take a different posture were the race in the US, where it would get wide exposure.

“If he were at home, it might be a different stance,” Nehemiah said. “But I think he’s probably just here to run this exhibition race.”

Nehemiah played in the NFL as a receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, the same team that Colin Kaepernick was playing for when he started protesting last season at NFL games by not standing during the US national anthem.

Nehemiah, who once held the world record in the 110 hurdles, said he would have taken a knee.

“Yeah, but I’m a rebel,” he said. “I’ll do what’s in my heart. I’m a leader, not a follower. I think if he [Kaepernick] were on my team, I think collectively we would have talked about it as a team and we would have done it more as team.”

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