Justin Gatlin of Pensacola was so happy he struggled to find the right words.
With Gatlin, it was never about effort, only whether he would get another chance at the Olympics. He made the most of it, chasing Usain Bolt and his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake to the wire, before finishing with the bronze.
Eight years ago, Gatlin was on top of the sprint world after winning gold in Athens. But he tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, leading to a four-year ban that prevented him from defending his title in Beijing.
At 30, Gatlin wasn't sure he would be in this position again.
He had envisioned a comeback, but never anything quite like this. He blazed out of the blocks on Sunday, picked up steam midway through the race and held off Tyson Gay — along with Ryan Bailey — to take third in a personal-best time of 9.79 seconds. He needed that, too, because Gay finished 0.01 seconds behind.
"It just feels good to be back," Gatlin said. "I'm here — another eight years later. My road and my journey coming back — I've been through a lot.
"There were people out there, on Twitter, Facebook and on my email, who did envision there was another medal for me. I'm glad I believed in them, because they believed in me so much."
As for which medal means more, well, that's hard to say.
"Gold is gold. Bronze is bronze," Gatlin said. "But the story that comes behind this bronze ... speechless. It means so much to me. I'm glad to be here. I have a lot left in the tank."
With a slight limp, he made the field for the Olympic final and almost earned a medal.
Almost made it even more painful.
Nothing is guaranteed in four years. That's why this Olympics was so important for both. That's why the emotions bubbled to the surface.
"I went out there to challenge a mountain, to challenge the odds," Gatlin said. "I had to be fearless. I went out there to run my heart out, to do what I had to do."