21 AUG 2009 Report

Event Report - Men's 400 Metres - Final

LaShawn Merritt of the United States looks at the clock as he crosses the line to win the gold medal in the men's 400m final in Berlin (Getty Images)LaShawn Merritt of the United States looks at the clock as he crosses the line to win the gold medal in the men's 400m final in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright
Continuing the momentum that took him to the Olympic title one year ago, LaShawn Merritt took his first world 400m title in dominating fashion.

Taking control with a superb sustained drive between 200 and 300 metres, the 23-year-old American crusied to an overwhelming victory in 44.06, supplanting his own world-leading 44.37 from the semi-finals.

While it wasn’t quite as fast, the race at the front was very much like last year’s Olympic final, with the focus clearly on the American pair of Merritt, and two-time defending World champion Jeremy Wariner, who were meeting on the track for the first time this season. The lanky Texan ran a solid first half, certainly his finest of the season, and for a moment, a fleeting one, appeared even with Merritt as the pair approached the final straight.

But, like at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest, it was over the final 85 metres where Merritt’s closing strength prevailed.

“Wariner is a great champion, but I really wanted it,” said Merritt, who dedicated the victory to Jesse Owens, his family and his friends. “At 300 I felt good and at 350 I knew I had it.” Merritt is now undefeated over the distance this season in seven competitions.

Wariner was well back in second, clocking a season’s best 44.60. But Wariner, who clocked sub-44 in each of his two previous runs to World championships gold, is a shadow of his former self this season. An ankle injury in late spring led to lost training time and a lack of race sharpness.

Fortunately for Wariner, much of the world lags well behind this season, and his silver medal position was never threatened.

Renny Quow of Trinidad was equally unpressed to take third in 45.02. For only the second time in the history of the World championships – the last was at the inaugural edition in 1983 – a sub 45 wasn’t required to take the bronze. In fairness to the runners, an hour-long delay due to torrential rains, along with rapidly cooling temperatures, didn’t make for ideal conditions.

Further back, Tabarie Henry of the US Virgin Islands was fourth ahead of Bahamian Chris Brown 45.42 to 45.47.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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