LaShawn Merritt again showed his superiority in Thessaloniki, taking the 400m in 44.93 seconds and with it the winner’s prize money of $30,000. There was no one looked capable of stealing Merritt’s first prize at the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final. Behind the American there was quite a gap with Chris Brown (Bahamas) taking second in 45.49. David Neville (USA/45.60) just managed to hang on to third in front of Michael Bingham (Great Britain/45.67).
Already after the first bend LaShawn Merritt had opened a gap to Ireland’s David Gillick, who ran in lane three behind him. Then the double World Champion (400m and 4x400m) closed in on the ones in the outer lanes. After 200m he had closed in on Chris Brown, who was in front of him in lane five and remained his strongest competitor. Coming out of the bend Merritt was well clear and in control, cruising towards the finish line. While Brown held on to second it was getting close for Neville because Michael Bingham was coming nearer. But the British runner could not quite catch up and remained in fourth.
For LaShawn Merritt it was his 16th 400m win in a row. “I got out smooth, though the time was not good. But you can not expect to run faster at the end of the season. All that matters is to win,” said Merritt, adding: “I think I can now be called the best 400 m runner – I have earned that.”
Ten minutes before the start of the race someone had turned up on the track: Usain Bolt! But there was no shock entry by Jamaica’s superstar. While he will compete in tomorrow’s 200m he was celebrated in a guest appearance by Saturday’s crowd.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF