A Busy Offseason
by LaShawn Merritt
After the season, I pretty much just relaxed, just enjoyed myself. I had a great season, so enjoyed my six weeks off.
There was a parade when I finally ended my season, it was great! The whole town of Portsmouth came out. It really was an experience of a lifetime. Before the Olympics, we had a big cookout in Portsmouth, with everybody wishing me luck. This time they were ready to celebrate.
I didn’t really have time for a real vacation, since I had so many things going on. I went to a lot of places, but always did things. I had a lot of speaking engagements and photo shoots, and had plenty of people wanting me to do things. I spoke to a lot of youth in elementary schools, middle and high schools.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time with my nephews, my younger sister Nee Nee’s sons. Antwon, who’s a year-a-half old, and Kwamé, who’s just a month old.
We recently held the first LaShawn Merritt Invitational (31 Jan) at the Boo Williams Sportsplex, in Hampton, Virginia. It was great! More than 900 high school kids competed. It was sponsored through the LaShawn Merritt Foundation, which we began in December.
It’s a way for me to give back to the community that supported me. We’ll have scholarships available, and we’ll help out in other ways that in turn will help local athletes get more exposure.
When I was in high school, I was one of the best athletes in the country, but I didn’t have the funds to travel to some of the different major invitationals. So we’ll help with that as well. I’m heavily involved and doing a lot hands-on, but I can’t do everything. I have my job to do.
Being Olympic champion means I have to work even harder. It takes a true champion to stay on top. I accomplished my goal last year, to become Olympic champion. But now is where the hard work starts. And now I’m working harder than ever before. You become the Olympic champion at the Olympic Games, and while I’m going into the new year as the Olympic champion, it’s a new year.
The only thing that’s changed from last year is the intensity of the training. The workouts are getting harder. And I’m putting more dedication into it. So when it’s time to line up, there won’t be any excuses.
Physically I’m about the same as last year, but mentally I’m a lot stronger. I feel like I haven’t lost anything. And that I can pick up where I left off.