Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Merritt believes in world record

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter

Since he won his first global title at the 2004 World Junior Championship in the 400m, Lashawn Merritt has gone on to win practically everything at the senior level in the event.

This includes an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and two World Championships titles in 2009, 2013, and 2015.

But at the age of 31, the Virginia native is still shooting to add the label of world record holder to his name.

And though he watched helplessly at Rio de Jainero Olympics two years ago as Wayde Van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson's 16-year-old mark of 43.18, Merritt still believes that he has what it takes to be the first human being to run under 43 seconds.

"I want to go under 43 seconds. I think it (the world record) is the only missing thing," Merritt said. "I have had Olympic gold medals, I have had undefeated seasons, I won Diamond League a couple times, and I ran fast in the 200m and 400m, but definitely, it is that world record that I want."

He continued: "Any athlete who has been at the top of their event for a while wants to be the best to ever do it."

Merritt's personal best currently stands at 43.65, a time he did at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015. He recorded his first sub-44 seconds race 11 years ago at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

CAPABLE OF REACHING TARGET

Merritt said that his longevity at the top of his event makes him believe that he is capable of reaching his target.

"It's really an honour to be running fast for so long, and it makes me believe that I can run that sub043 for real," Merritt said. "With the world record being 43.03, I feel like it is definitely possible. I know I am getting older, but I still feel strong. It is going to take a season where I am really healthy and get some really good speed work in."

To get to his target, Merritt knows that he will have to get past Van Niekerk, but according to him, he is not daunted by the task as he has endured many duels in the events throughout his career.

He got the better of Jeremy Wariner when he won back-to-back world titles in 2008 and 2009. The duel between him and Kerani James might not be over, but the 31-year-old is winning right now as he destroyed the Grenadian at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships after serving a suspension and missing the London Olympics due to injury.

"I love the competition. It keeps you hungry and lets you know that there is no room to get complacent. But the experience has taught me how to go to championships and being able to handle the rounds. I am really proud to have been on top of some of those battles," Merritt said.

Merritt will compete today in the 200m at the Jamaica International Invitational at the National Stadium.

akino.ming@gleanerjm.com