Merritt Strikes Gold In Beijing
Aug. 21, 2008
BEIJING (Reuters) - American LaShawn Merritt obliterated the field including defending champion Jeremy Wariner to win the Olympic men's 400 meters title on Thursday by the widest margin since 1896.
Merritt sealed a seventh straight gold in the event for the U.S., starting relatively slowly before blasting down the final straight to cross the line in a personal best of 43.75 seconds.
Wariner, visibly frustrated and upset, finished a distant second in 44.74 seconds and David Neville took third with a spectacular dive for the line to complete a U.S. medal sweep.
Merritt and twice world champion Wariner have dominated the 400m this year and clocked 11 of the fastest times in the world before the Olympics.
Merritt already beat Wariner twice this year, including at the U.S. Olympic trials, but Wariner was still considered favourite after a superb European campaign in July.
U.S. runners have lost just once in the Olympic 400m over the past half century, when Cuba's Alberto Juantorena completed his unprecedented 400m-800m double in 1976.
The podium sweep came as some consolation for the U.S. after Jamaica took all four golds in the 100m and 200m sprints and both U.S. 4x100 relay squads dropped their batons in the heats.