Lost in the action on Thursday’s USA 400 meter Olympic Trials final with LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner was David Neville’s Lane 8 “running scared and hanging on” 3rd place finish.
Anyone who’s run the 400 meters in Lane 8 will know what I’m talking about.
David Neville didn’t take the “victory lap” traditionally taken by the three qualifiers. He was too nauseous after a personal best of 44.61 seconds.
“Anyone who’s run the 400 knows how I felt,” he quoted.
Like the indoor 400 meters, running a fast pace for the first half of the race isn’t unknown to to Neville. He recently won the 2008 Indoor USA Championships at 400 meters.
How to Run the 400 meters
If you take a look at LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner’s splits, you’ll see some interesting analysis:
1st. LaShawn Merritt 44.00 – 11.0, 10.5 [21.5], 10.7 [32.2], 11.8 [44.0]
Or 21.5 and 22.5 for 200m segments.
2nd. Jeremy Wariner 44.20 – 11.0, 10.6 [21.6], 10.9 [32.5], 11.7 [44.2]
Or 21.6 and 22.6 for 200m segments.
You may think the difference was 0.2 seconds but the big difference is the segment from 100 to 300 meters: 21.2 for Merritt, and 21.5 for Wariner. That difference was 0.3 seconds, the difference between first and second place!
Michael Johnson once quoted that the 400m race is really divided into 8 x 50 meter zones, not the traditional 4 x 100m segments.
Read the article below from USA Today and you’ll see how Michael and Jeremy divides the race up.
Merritt edges rival Wariner in 400-meter final at Olympic trials
EUGENE, Ore. â€” The rivalry is not yet Ali-Frazier, Russell-Chamberlain or McEnroe-Borg, but LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner may be forging a classic matchup in the 400 meters.
Merritt made it two wins in three races against Wariner, who has ruled the event since 2004 with an Olympic and two world championship titles, in Thursday’s final at the Olympic track & field trials. The U.S. team for next month: Merritt (44.00), Wariner (44.20) and David Neville (44.61).
Neville, in lane 8 outside everyone, led with 100 left. “I was out there running scared,” he said. “I was like ‘Wow.’
He soon was passed by Merritt. Fourth off the turn, Wariner made one of his classic stretch charges but when he realized he couldn’t get Merritt, he eased up.
Afterwards only Merritt took the victory lap traditionally taken by the three qualifiers. Wariner was “too disappointed” to take part. And Neville too nauseous after a personal best. “Anyone who’s run the 400 knows how I felt,” he said.
Wariner wasn’t feeling so great when he realized he was in trouble after the first 200, ran into the wind, and moved prematurely with 150 left. That was a fatal mistake, according to his manager, Michael Johnson, the two-time Olympic champ and world record holder in the event.
“I didn’t execute the race right,” said Wariner, who skipped the formal press conference but later talked to reporters. “Michael said if I had built into it from 150 and then kicked, I would have been fine. I tried to force it at 150 and that hurt me.”
Merritt, who has better 200 speed than Wariner, was considered more inexperienced in 400 tactics but ran the smarter race Thursday.
“My plan basically was to get in front and stay in front,” he said. “I plan on continuing winning. I like to win. I train to win.”
Wariner, who left his long-time coach, Clyde Hart of Baylor, early in the year to train with Baylor assistant Michael Ford, said the switch had no bearing in the race. “We do the same workouts,” Wariner said. “I’ve run faster this year early in the season than ever. Coach Ford is doing a good job.”
Four years ago, when Wariner was winning the 400 at the Athens Games, Merritt won the 400 at the World Junior Championships. Last year at the world championships, Merritt broke 44 seconds for the first time and pushed Wariner to a personal-best 43.45.
“He’s just going to make me work harder in practice knowing I’ve got someone out there competing and running as fast as I am,” Wariner said.
For Merritt it was his first U.S. senior title after narrow losses the two previous years. “That’s what means the most to me,” he said.
Merritt, who turned 22 June 27, dedicated the victory to his late older brother, Antwan, who had a June 29 birthday and died in 1999 after jumping from his college dorm room during a fight.
“This was for both of our birthdays,” said Merritt, who grew up in Portsmouth, Va., and now lives in nearby Suffolk. “I’ll celebrate a little when I get home.”
Merritt was ranked No. 2 in the world last year, which proved motivating. “I took a little time off after world championships,” he said. “When I got back in it, I trained hard. I did the things I had to do like massages, stretching and diet to make this my year.”
Before this year, Merritt was 0-for-11 against Wariner. He’s 2-0 this season with their next meeting scheduled July 11 in Rome.
Wariner still considers himself the Olympic favorite, pointing out his PR (personal record) is about .5 seconds faster than Merritt’s.
“When I start running in the mid-43s, I’ve just got to keep running the same,” Wariner said. “He’s going to have to start PRing.”
To be decided in Beijing.