28 August 2009
Double World Champion LaShawn Merritt is out to make his mark in his Gateshead debut when he takes to the track over 400m at the Aviva British Grand Prix on Monday.
The 23-year-old is in stunning form, remaining unbeaten in his last thirteen races over one lap. Last week the American clinched the world title with the fastest time of the year, clocking an impressive 44.06 ahead of his compatriot Jeremy Wariner.
Now Merritt, who also won double gold at the Olympics last year, heads to Gateshead International Stadium hoping to make another big impression:
“I can’t wait to compete in Gateshead on Monday,” Merritt said. “I know the British love their athletics so I will put on a show for them for sure. The Olympics are in three years time so I will be there in the UK to defend my title and the Diamond League is at Gateshead in 2010 so it will be good to try out the track.
“I’ve never raced at Gateshead but I know it has a history for long distance running, hopefully I can create some new history in the 400m.”
Merritt burst onto the scene when he set a World Junior record in 2005, then emerged from Wariner's shadow to take centre stage when he won gold in Beijing last summer taking the Olympic title 0.99 sec ahead of Wariner - the widest margin since 1896.
The American star added: “To add the World title to my Olympic crown is an awesome feeling. I just turned 23 this June, so there is hopefully more to come from me. I want to continue to get better and better throughout my career.”
Merritt’s second gold medal of the 12th IAAF World Championships came on the final day of competition when he anchored the American men’s 4 x 400m relay team home ahead of the British quartet, three of whom – Michael Bingham, Rob Tobin and Martyn Rooney - he will face again in Gateshead.
“My experience in Berlin was very rewarding – the crowds and the World records being broken all made it such a great week to be part of and to win double gold was of course the icing on the cake,” he added.
For tickets to the Aviva British Grand Prix, Gateshead International Stadium on August 31 visit www.uka.org.uk or 0800 055 6056