KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Christian Coleman, arguably the current fastest man in the world, said when he signed with Tennessee he wanted to put the Vols’ track and field program back on the map.
Coleman and reigning 100-meter world champion Justin Gatlin made that happen Saturday at Tom Black Track as part of the fastest 4×100-meter relay team in the world at the 51st Tennessee Relays.
“Coming out here and running amongst the fans, they gave us a great atmosphere,” said Coleman, who set the world record in the 60 meters [6.34 seconds] earlier this year.
“They were cheering, and it was intense. It felt like it was a championship out here, and I was just happy to come back home and run in front of these fans.”
Coleman, who grew up running and racing in Atlanta, originally wanted to attend Georgia.
The Bulldogs’ track program, however, offered him minuscule scholarship money, while Tennessee believed in Coleman, a standout at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, Ga., some 20 miles outside of Atlanta.
“We just wanted Christian to go to a place that would help him develop,” said Seth Coleman, Christian’s father. “When he says Tennessee is his second home, he really believes it. He loves it here.”
Indeed, Coleman turned pro after his junior season, but he continues to attend classes at Tennessee and train in Knoxville.
While global stars Gatlin, Ronnie Baker and Mike Rodgers expressed relative satisfaction with the 38.07-second time — that fastest in the world this year, but a tick off the American record (37.38) they were shooting for — Coleman made it clear he wanted more.
“We’ll just keep working together. Obviously it’s early in the season, so we’re not even in our top form yet, not in our peak for the outdoor season yet,” Coleman said. “We’ll focus on our individual races and come back later in the summer and run somewhere overseas, and I think it will be a lot faster.”
4×100 with a pair of Tennessee legends. 🇺🇸⏱
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Track and Field on Saturday, April 14, 2018