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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Gatlin offers Lewis-Francis help
Justin Gatlin beat Mark Lewis-Francis in the 100m heats in Helsinki
Gatlin is the reigning world and Olympic 100m champion
World 100m and 200m champion Justin Gatlin has offered struggling British sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis the chance to train with him in America.

Gatlin's coach Trevor Graham criticised Lewis-Francis before the recent World Championships, but the American sprinter has now offered to help.

"He needs to train with people who are the best in the world so that he can be the best," Gatlin told The Guardian.

"He needs to get back focused and I can help him do that."

Lewis-Francis's career has stuttered since he claimed the world junior 100m title in 2000.

The 22-year-old, who ran the anchor leg to claim Olympic 4x100m gold last year, has still to claim an individual outdoor title at any of the major championships.

Lewis-Francis, who tested positive for cannabis earlier this year, failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in Helsinki and Gatlin believes the Birmingham athlete needs to concentrate on his career.

"A lot of sprinters have things outside which takes the attention away from them being the best they can," Gatlin said.

"Everyone knows that Mark has run faster times than he has this year - even when he was younger.

I need someone there to push me to the next level - if Mark was with us it would happen
Justin Gatlin

"I talked to Mark before it was time to leave the championships. I told him if there was anything he needs or if he ever wants to come over, just to let me know."

Gatlin is just eight months older than Lewis-Francis and only turned professional two years ago.

And even though the American has swept all before him this season, he believes training with Lewis-Francis would spur him on too.

"I need someone there to push me to the next level," said Gatlin. "If Mark was with us it would happen."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Justin Gatlin's sprint tips



SEE ALSO
Bailey bids to help Lewis-Francis
09 Aug 05 |  Athletics
Top coaches attack Lewis-Francis
04 Aug 05 |  Athletics
Lewis-Francis turns to Christie
10 Feb 05 |  Athletics


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