Reformed LaShawn Merritt sates his appetite with 400m world athletics title

Updated: 14 August 2013 08:58 IST

The 27-year-old, who won his previous title in 2009 a year after winning Olympic gold, posted the fastest time of the year of 43.74 seconds to take gold while compatriot Tony McQuay ran a personal best (44.40sec) for second place and Luquelin Santos of the Dominican Republic was third (44.52sec).

Reformed LaShawn Merritt sates his appetite with 400m world athletics title

Moscow:

American LaShawn Merritt regained the men's 400 metres world title at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow on Tuesday.

It restored some credibility to his reputation after serving a 21-month doping ban, then fighting a court battle against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) before being allowed to run in the 2012 Olympics.

Ultimately all his legal efforts came to nothing when he failed to make it past the heats in London, pulling up injured,

"I was really hungry for this title coming here and probably the hungriest man on that track," said Merritt.

"In fact I was starving because of the disappointment two years ago (second in the 2011 final) and in London last year.

"I was mentally and physically in the zone, out to prove that I am still a force in the event at this level. I lost a lot when I was banned but I never lost my will to win."

The 27-year-old, who won his previous title in 2009 a year after winning Olympic gold, posted the fastest time of the year of 43.74 seconds to take gold while compatriot Tony McQuay ran a personal best (44.40sec) for second place and Luquelin Santos of the Dominican Republic was third (44.52sec).

Olympic and defending champion Kirani James of Grenada appeared to tighten up in the finishing straight and faded to finish seventh of the eight-man field.

"It just didn't work out for me today," said the 20-year-old James, who beat Merritt for gold two years ago at Daegu, South Korea.

"It is back to the drawing board, see what's going on. I didn't come into the Worlds expecting this but you just move forward from this."

Merritt, burst from the blocks and, by the time they rounded the final bend, it was all for James to do.

However, the spark that has seen him dominate the event for the past two years was not there and instead of producing his trademark burst down the straight he was swallowed up by the rest of the runners.

Merritt was never threatened but McQuay, 23, stormed through to take a deserved second place and Santos produced another excellent performance at the age of 19 to add a second minor medal from a major final to what promises to be an impressive collection.

Yousef Ahmed Masrahi never threatened to become only Saudi Arabia's second world championship medallist.

Having been impressive in his first round heat and the semi-final, the 25-year-old failed to cope with the pressures of both an expectant people back home and his first major global final as he finished sixth.

"This is a race that was top class and could have been won by anyone," he said.

"It was so strong a race that the Olympic champion did not win. For me it has been a really good experience and I will be stronger for it and come back better for the next championships in two years time."

For Merritt, though, it will not only mean $100,000 in first-place prize money but also go some way towards rebuilding his reputation.

He tested positive for steroids three times in late 2009 and, while his later case against the IOC at the Court of Arbitration for Sport was successful, it came at the cost of an embarrassing revelation - Merritt admitted that he had tested positive because he took a $6 male enhancement product, ExtenZe, that contained the banned substance DHEA.

Topics : Athletics Olympics 2012
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