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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Merritt clocks second fastest indoor 400m ever

Merritt clocks second fastest indoor 400m ever

February 12, 2005 11:59 IST

American LaShawn Merritt became the second fastest indoor 400 metres runner of all time while Kenyan Bernard Lagat ran the third quickest mile in history at the Fayetteville Invitational meeting in Arkansas on Friday.

World junior champion Merritt, 18, stunned the crowd by clocking a time of 44.93 seconds. Only Michael Johnson has run faster, setting the world record of 44.63 in 1995 and running 44.66 the following year.

Merritt finished more than 7/10ths of a second ahead of compatriot Bershawn Jackson.

Olympic silver medallist Lagat, aiming for a world record, clocked three minutes 49.89 seconds, behind only Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj's 1997 world indoor mile record of 3:48.45 and former world record holder Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland (3:49.78).

Merritt, a first-year student at East Carolina University, was timed at a blazing 21.04 seconds for the first 200 metres.

His previous best effort in the event was 45.25, set outdoors. He ran 45.94

indoors earlier this year.


"I knew coming in that I could run 45, and I knew this was the fastest track in the country," Merritt said.

"The field was full of Olympians, and I was the only collegiate athlete. I wasn't going to back down. I wanted to set the pace, and that's what I did."

Lagat was on course to break El Guerrouj's record through 1,200 metres but he could not maintain the pace in a solo effort over the final 400.

"It's tough (being so far ahead), because I need someone to push me," said Lagat, who finished almost 10 seconds ahead of Canadian Nate Brannen.

Olympic 200 metres gold medallist Veronica Campbell of Jamaica ran the fastest women's 60 metres in the world this year when she equalled her personal best of 7.09 seconds.

World indoor 60 metres hurdles champion Allen Johnson also won, improving his season-leading time to 7.51 seconds.

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