Justin Gatlin remains convinced Usain Bolt will return to athletics after injury dramatically ruined his farewell in the 4x100 metres relay final in London on Saturday.
Bolt looked set to head into retirement with a record-equalling 15th IAAF World Championships medal but pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and failed to finish the final leg of the race.
Great Britain snatched the gold medal from the United States as the 30-year-old lay prone on the track, Christian Coleman beaten to the line by Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
Gatlin, who beat Coleman and Bolt to 100m gold last weekend, has previously expressed his opinion that his long-time rival will return to the sport in the future and reiterated those thoughts following an unbecoming farewell for the eight-time Olympic champion.
"He's coming back in a year or two, he'll be ready. He has a passion for the sport, the fans love him, it's something you just can't walk away from that easy," said Gatlin.
"He's a showman, he wants to come out and I think he'll do a great job if he comes back to track and field. We've got a lot of young guys like Coleman, like [Jaylen] Bacon, myself, we're hungry to go out there for good competition."
Regardless of whether he returns to the track, Bolt is sure to be remembered as an all-time great - having secured 100m and 200m doubles at three successive Olympic Games as well as setting new world records in each event.
"You can't really have this night define what he's done in the past," Gatlin added. "From 2008 on, Usain Bolt has done amazing things and tonight is not going to define who he is.
"He's still the man, and this is farewell so we take our hat off to him, hope he gets well soon."
Gatlin was one of many competitors who suggested a lengthy wait ahead of Saturday's relay may have contributed to Bolt's injury.
"We were in the stadium for a while, you guys know how chilly it is down here," he said. "We had a cool breeze in the back and I think with that a lot of our muscles were cramping up from having our clothes off a little too early.
"Hopefully it’s just a cramp and it'll go away, but I hope he doesn't dwell on it."
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