Heading to Rio for street race, Gatlin not concerned by Zika
ROME (AP) Justin Gatlin is already on his way to Rio de Janeiro and he's not concerned about the Zika virus.
After winning the 100 meters at the Golden Gala meet in Rome on Thursday, Gatlin's next event is a street race in Rio on Sunday.
''I guess I get my first crack at it,'' Gatlin said. ''I leave to go to Rio tonight.''
The American sprinter should be back for the Rio Games in August as a top medal contender.
''We don't get a chance to do a Final Four. We don't get a chance to do a Super Bowl. This is our championships,'' Gatlin said. ''And if at that point in time, if Zika is not going to kill me, I'm going to be down there trying to accomplish my Olympic dreams.''
Brazil has been badly hit by Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.
Will Gatlin take any precautions?
''At this point in time none that I know of,'' Gatlin told reporters. ''It's such a mysterious disease, illness, whatever you want to call it. A lot of people don't understand it. You just got to go out there and do what you have to do. If you focus on things that's outside of your power ... then you're going to be distracted.''
Gatlin won the 100 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics then tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006. He was reinstated from his ban in 2010, and returned to capture bronze at the London Games two years later.
He's expected to be 100 world-record holder Usain Bolt's top challenger in Rio.