18 JUL 2008 General News Paris, France

Wariner: ‘I wanted to come out here and make a statement today’ - ÅF Golden League, Paris

Jeremy Wariner runs a world-leading 43.86 in the 400m in Paris (Getty Images)Jeremy Wariner runs a world-leading 43.86 in the 400m in Paris (Getty Images) © Copyright

By every measure, Jeremy Wariner was quite pleased with his dominating 43.86 performance in the 400m, one of the premiere highlights of the 10th edition of the Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis - ÅF Golden League.

“I’m happy with my race and I executed the way I wanted to,” the Olympic and twice World champion said after knocking a hefty 0.23 seconds from his previous world-pacing mark set in Oslo’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games six weeks ago. “I wanted to come out here and make a statement today.”

He wasn’t directly referring to his growing rivalry with compatriot LaShawn Merritt, but the meaning of his remark could hardly have been construed otherwise. Merritt, the U.S trials champion, who inflicted high profile back-to-back defeats on Wariner this season, was well-beaten second this time around, finishing well back in 44.35.

“I ran a whole lot better here than I did in Rome,” Wariner said, referring to his narrow 0.01 second victory in the Italian capital a week ago, in 44.36. “I just felt great today. Everything was flowing. And I couldn’t ask for anything else. And I’m happy with that. And now I’m going to Stockholm, hopefully to get another good race, and then go home and train hard.”

After a rugged start, Wariner regrouped quickly running smoothly off the first curve and into the backstretch where he quickly assumed control.

“I didn’t ease off in the backstretch close to the 200. I kept my speed going and my finish was a lot stronger today than ever this year.”

Indeed, as in their previous meetings this summer, there was simply no contest over the race’s final 60 metres.

“On the backstretch I didn’t slow down at all. I got up on Merritt and I just kept on going and worked the turn like I usually do. The one good thing was that my finish was a whole lot better than it’s been in the past.”

“I felt strong and I stayed relaxed,” Wariner continued. “My legs were under me the whole last straightaway so I was excited about that.”

Wariner’s defeat at the U.S Trials in Eugene on 3 July was one of the biggest upsets of the 10-day American selection meet, but Wariner insists that that particular loss hasn’t weighed on him. Instead, he heeded the advice of his manager Michael Johnson and quickly moved on.

“I haven’t looked back (at the trials),” he said. “One thing Michael told me after the trials is that I didn’t execute, and that I didn’t run my race. That’s the one he said that we need to work on in these next few weeks, to run my race. In Rome I started working on it, but I didn’t do the best I could. And today I ran a whole better and finished a whole lot stronger, and made a statement going into the Olympics.”

Wariner rejects the criticism he received in some circles that his losses to Merritt may have dented his confidence.

“My confidence was never shot since I lost those races,” Wariner asserted. “Today I felt great running. When I saw my time I was excited, it was my second 43 of the season, and it’s a pretty good way of going into the Olympics now.”

Describing the race as a “great sign” in his Beijing build-up, Wariner concluded, “I’ve just got to keep running like I have today, and at the Olympics I’ll come out on top.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF