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LaShawn Merritt dominates 400m at Athens Grand Prix

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-14

In preparation for the Berlin world championships, American LaShawn Merritt dominated the 400-metre category at the Athens Grand Prix. Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov was one centimetre away from his best performance this year of 235 centimetres.

Reuters - Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt laid down a significant marker for world championship rival Jeremy Wariner with a comfortable victory at the Athens Grand Prix on Monday.

The 23-year-old Merritt, who finished behind Wariner in the 2007 world championships but beat his fellow American to win gold in Beijing, clocked 44.54 seconds to cruise to victory at the Olympic Stadium.

Merritt only missed his season best performance by 0.04 seconds and his run suggested Wariner would need to produce something special to retain his world title in Berlin next month.

"I wanted to run a little faster but I'll take the victory," Merritt told Reuters after finishing ahead of compatriot David Neville and Congolese athlete Gary Kikaya."I ran well, but more importantly I feel fresh and ready for Berlin."

Merritt said he believed Michael Johnson's world record mark of 43.18 would be broken soon.

"I think it can be broken," he said. "I've come off a long season last year and I'm still running well this year. I'm still kind of young and the record is definitely one of my goals.

"Jeremy hasn't been racing much this year so I haven't been able to follow him closely," Merritt said. "But I know he will be well prepared and very strong in Berlin. I've just got to concentrate on myself and be ready.

"Since Osaka two years ago I feel I have gotten much stronger both physically and mentally. I'm finishing races very well and my body is feeling great.

"Jamaica's women also sent out a strong message to their rivals.

World champion Veronica Campbell-Brown sealed victory in the 100m in impressive fashion, pulling away from American Carmelita Jeter to win in 10.96 seconds.

It was the first time this season the 27-year-old has gone under 11 seconds.

"I am very happy with my performance, it was  close race," she said.

Campbell-Brown's compatriot Novlene Williams-Mills enjoyed a comfortable victory in the 400 metres in a season's best time of 50.05 seconds and another Jamaican, Isa Philips, showed why he is highly fancied to win gold in Berlin by winning the 400 metres hurdles in 48.09 seconds.

The crowd was treated to an impressive performance from Greek long jumper Louis Tsatoumas, who produced a season best leap of 8.21 metres to finish just four centimetres behind winner Fabrice Lapierre of Australia.

Date created : 2009-07-14

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