- Johnny Esfeller
IMG Academy's LaShawn Merritt uses new personal best to annex Gold
IMG Academy trainee LaShawn Merritt inked his name in the annals of 400-meter history in the 1980 Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia, climbing the leader board to become the fourth fastest man in the event, running a lifetime best of 43.74s.
Merritt was pitted against Olympic and World Champion Kirani James (Grenada), and drew lane six outside of James. The plan, as Merritt explained at the ensuing press conference, was to start in front and stay in front.
Using superior speed and efficiency, Merritt maintained his momentum down the back straight through 300-meters, posting a scintillating sub-32 second time and leaving the field in his wake.
Merritt, who has trained the past two seasons with Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Loren Seagrave (pictured left, with LaShawn after the event), at IMG Academy learned his lessons well and went to his arms to maintain knee lift and a strong finish that saw him pull away from the field and storm through the tape.
Merritt is on tap to anchor the USA 4x400m Relay Team in the finals August 16th. Also representing their country in the 4x400 Relay are Italians Matteo Galvan and Libania Grenot, both semi finalists in the open event.
Another IMG Academy trained athlete, Li Jinzhe, will take the runway in the qualification round of the men's long jump on August 14. Li, whose 8.36m jump still ranks as one of the best in the world, was injured while in training camp in Papendaal, The Netherlands when a heavy barbell dropped on his foot. Seagrave consulted with Li the previous morning, and the Chinese jumper will lace up his jumping shoes in hopes of a one jump qualifier to advance to the finals on Thursday evening.
Photo by: Getty Images