Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Will Win Wariner vs. Merritt IV?

When Jeremy Wariner sat down before the season with his agent Michael Johnson and his coach Michael Ford, it was recognized that LaShawn Merritt would be a foe to be dealt with in the ’08 season.

Not that Wariner could have ever forgotten the man he had to run down in final 30-meters in Osaka to win the 400-meters at the 2007 World Championship.

What could not have been anticipated before the season is the hamstring injury suffered by Wariner on May 9 in Doha, Qatar, that slightly set back his conditioning and training. The tightness in the right hamstring is a recurring injury dating back to his Baylor days and is a recurring issue from time to time.

Another unforeseen development is LaShawn Merritt currently leads the matchup 2 to 1 over Jeremy Wariner this season. In the first show down Merritt won over Wariner in Berlin, Germany on 1 June, at the opening leg fixture of the ÅF Golden League 2008. Their tussle could not have been much tighter - 44.03 to 44.07. In a big upset Merritt (44.00) edged Wariner (44.20) at the the U.S. Olympic Trials.

There is a certain feeling in being a marked man. The freshly minted World Record holder Dayron Robles (12.87) is running with a bulls eye on the back of his uniform in the 110-meter hurdles. Rising U.S. star David Oliver ran close to the world record at 12.87 with a +3.2 wind at the Olympic Trials, making the head-to-head match interesting. Oliver is running with tremendous confidence making this one of the highlight events of the meet.

The women’s 100-meter hurdles promises to be thrilling on Friday. Fresh off a U.S. Olympic Trials championship Lolo Jones (12.29 with +3.8 wind) is poised to take on the red hot Brigitte Foster-Hylton (12.50). The heat will also come from Josehine Onyia (12.50) Delloreen Ennis-London (12.54) in the race.

The women’s 200 is another loaded event. The dominant Kerron Stewart of Jamaica comes into the meet with the second fastest time in the world in 21.99. The third fastest time of 22.11 in the world is owned by Jamaica's Sherone Simpson, who will also be in the race. Sanya Richard is dropping down from 400-meters again to work on speed but she may very well have met her match in these two runners. The U.S. Olympic Trials champion at 400-meters ran her seasons best time of 22.49 last week in Rome.

By Jay Hicks.

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