Merritt: Bolt’s not in my class

BROOKLYN, New York (CMC) Olympic 400 metre champion, LaShawn Merritt, has issued a warning to Jamaica’s world sprint sensation Usain Bolt not to expect a step up to the one lap event to be easy.

Bolt, decorated with a proliferation of 2008 Athlete of the Year awards for his majestic world-record sprint victories at the Beijing Olympics, is considering an assault on the 400m and Michael Johnson’s world record in the one-lap event.

But American Merritt has that Bolt should not expect to cruise to victory like he did in the 100m and 200m in Beijing.

‘I’m the best quarter-miler. I’m the No.1, reigning Olympic champion in the 400m,’ said Merritt.

‘If you’re going to come get me, come get me. But it’s not going to be easy… As far as I’m concerned, the world record isn’t out of my reach either.’

Both are outstanding 22-year-olds and while Bolt produced blistering world record runs for gold in the 100m (9.69 seconds) and 200m (19.30) plus the sprint relay with the Jamaican team in Beijing, Merritt was a huge winner of the 400m in a 2008 world best 43.75 seconds.

Merritt was only sixth-tenths of a second outside Johnson’s world mark of 43.18 seconds.

Johnson’s 12-year-old 200m world record of 19.32 seconds fell to Bolt in Beijing but Merritt does not think the Jamaican’s tremendous success in the sprints will automatically transfer to similar results in a longer race.

‘In the 400m, you actually hurt, there’s a point in the race where you’re going to feel the lactic acid and you have to know how to relax and fight through it,’ Merritt said.

‘You have to know how to handle that. A lot of people can’t.’