Merritt Defeats Rival Wariner in 400m Showdown at the World Championships

August 22, 2009

The tide has officially turned in the Merritt-Wariner rivalry.

In their first race against each other since the Beijing Olympics, LaShawn Merritt outran rival Jeremy Wariner with a strong finishing kick in the final 80 meters to capture the 400m gold medal at the Berlin Championships.

As expected, Wariner and Merritt were the class of the field, as both men came off the turn at three hundred meters nearly even with each other and well ahead of the rest of the field.

However, just as in Beijing, Merritt powered down the stretch and pulled away from Wariner, finishing in a time of 44.06 seconds. Wariner would take silver in a time of 44.60, with no other runner in the field cracking the 45-second barrier. Merritt and Wariner reacted to the gun with near identical times of .161 and .162, respectively.

Wariner's iron grip on the event began to slip when he made a coaching change prior to the 2008 Olympics. Of course, young Merritt's continued improvement and development also played a significant role in the process.

Since Beijing, both men have followed a pattern of avoidance - entering in different meets and also different events within the same meet. When one would run the 400m, the other would run the 200m, and vice-versa.

That avoidance, coupled with Wariner's rehiring of his old coach Clyde Hart, had produced tremendous anticipation for the 400m final in Berlin.

In fairness to Wariner, he had to curtail his training somewhat in the weeks prior to the World Championships due to an ankle injury he sustained in practice when he stepped on a random shoe someone had left on the track.

Still, until someone proves otherwise, Merritt is now the king of the 400, thanks to his two golds at the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships.

Women's 200m

Allyson Felix brought the U.S. some redemption in its sprint rivalry with Jamaica, as she routed the field to win gold in a time of 22.02 seconds. Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown finished a distant second, more than 3-tenths of a second behind Felix at 22.35 seconds.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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