Big Things Coming For Merritt
by Devon Jeffreys
In 2012, LaShawn Merritt plans to reap the awards of his perseverance.
LaShawn Merritt has his eyes on a rise back to the top of the track and field world in 2012.
It goes without saying that the last two years have been tough on LaShawn. He missed 21 months of his prime due to a suspension and at the age of 23 his life came to a crossroads. But LaShawn never let adversity get the best of him and instead chose to channel his frustration into training as he tells The Telegraph:
"It was just training and training and training without having the chance to compete," he said. "It was like being locked up and being unable to do anything except one thing.
"But mentally, I just had to tell myself that this was something I just had to get through because when I eventually lined up in a race, there was no way I was going to line up and not be in shape. I was destined to do this so I had to put this work in. I just forced myself to do it."
When the time finally did come to line up this summer, LaShawn was ready. He finished second in his first race, then went to the World Championships and set the world lead in qualifying. It was just his second race back after a 21-month hiatus.
LaShawn missed defending his world title when Kirani James edged him at the line in the final, but he went on to lead Team USA to a victory in the 4x400 relay, capturing yet another gold medal in a career that has barely scratched the surface. After another second place finish in Zurich, his third event of the year, LaShawn wrapped the outdoor season with three consecutive victories.
A month later, LaShawn received word that a rule that would have kept him out of the 2012 Olympics had been reversed and he would be eligible to compete in London. Now, as the calendar turns to 2012, he finds himself in position to reclaim his place at the top of the 400-meter mountain.
"It feels good knowing that all the pieces in my life are back together," he told the Telegraph. "London 2012 has a big target on its back for me to go there and show my dominance again by defending my medal. It’s time now for me to train hard and show the world that I am the top quarter-miler."