US Olympic gold medallists set sights on Berlin 2009

October 4th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 4 (DPA) Three US Olympic medallists and the fastest US miler said they have set their sights on the 2009 world athletics championship in Berlin as a major goal for next year.Lashawn Merritt, who salvaged American pride in Beijing by taking gold in the 400 metres and 4×400 relay, is convinced he’ll run faster on Berlin’s blue track.

“Because it’s blue, you feel you are running faster,” he said Friday. “A lot of it is mental. It gets me hyped.”

Alan Webb, the fastest US miler who failed to qualify for Beijing, is hoping Berlin will be a comeback.

Merritt and Webb joined Bryan Clay, US gold decathlon medallist from Beijing, and 10,000m bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan at the German embassy in Washington, where the IAAF Berlin organising committee kicked off its worldwide promotional campaign for the August 2009 event.

It also happened to be German Unity Day, and as the athletes chatted on the sidelines with journalists, a huge crowd was gathering on the massive terraced lawn of the embassy. Michael Mronz, with the Berlin IAAF committee, said Washington was chosen for the launch because “German-American friendship is so strong”.

Merritt, 22, told said how he watched both men’s and women’s US 4×100 teams drop the baton in the semifinals.

“I saw it and I said, ‘Oh man’, my goal was to get gold.”

He went on to do just that - and did it twice. In fact, he led the US men’s sweep of the 400m, ahead of defending Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner and David Neville.

“The winner of the race is the person who wants it most,” Merritt said.

Webb, 25, said he had high hopes for Berlin “because I had a somewhat disappointing 2008.”

“Mistakes I made last year I hope to correct,” Webb said. That meant he would change his training and compete more indoors through this winter season.

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