On this day: Justin Gatlin takes Olympic gold in Athens

On this day 10 years ago, Justin Gatlin storms clear of the field to take Olympic gold in Athens.

It was the showpiece event of the 2004 Olympic Games, and it was a fitting moment in Athens as Justin Gatlin shocked his rivals to storm home in the 100m final.

Very few could predict back then that the American would become such a controversial figure in the world of athletics, but on this day 10 years ago, it was Gatlin's time in the spotlight.

Aged 22 at the time, he had been in the professional ranks for less than two years, and victory on the biggest stage of them all seemed very unlikely for the Brooklyn native.

Justin Gatlin of the US wins the gold in the men's 100m final, 22 August 2004© Getty Images

The leading medal contenders eased through to the final, with hot favourites Asafa Powell and Shawn Crawford tipped to be the men fighting it out for the Olympic title.

It was set to be a brilliant battle between the Jamaican and American, with defending champions Maurice Greene and Portugal's Francis Obikwelu.

When it came to race time, there was a moment of frustration for Gatlin as he was forced to ignore an intruder who had made his way behind the scenes in attempt to take a picture of the tattoo on his arm.

The strange moment was soon quickly forgotten as the eight sprinters lined up for what would prove to be a memorable race in front of a captivated crowd, who were treated to a dramatic 9.85s.

Four men came home under the 9.90s mark for the first time ever, but it was Gatlin who stormed away ahead of Obikwelu and Greene, with his unique style proving to be no match for the rest of the field.

Crawford and Powell were fourth and fifth respectively as Gatlin stole the show in the most prestigious race in the world, and many expected him to dominate for years to come.

"They were talking about Asafa and my teammate Shawn Crawford," the winner told reporters after the race. "Both were running against each other prior to the Games. I think that going out there and putting myself under pressure helped. I run well under pressure.

However, there was controversy ahead as the USA's golden boy tested positive for "testosterone or its precursor" in April 2006, before eventually being handed a four-year ban - a suspension halved from the original length.

It was the second positive test of his career after being banned in 2001 for taking amphetamines, but this test caused shockwaves in the sport, and despite the sprinter's insistence that he was innocent, some people would never forgive him.

Justin Gatlin of the US gestures after he won gold in the men's 100m final, 22 August 2004© Getty Images

Whether his critics liked it or not, Gatlin was back on the track in 2010, and would go on to claim another Olympic medal in London two years later as he secured bronze behind Jamaican duo Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

Gatlin was tipped to go on to become one of the greats following that stunning night in Athens 10 years ago, but his career will surely always be blighted by the mistakes he reportedly made to get to the top.

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