LaShawn Merritt named USATF Athlete of the Week

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    INDIANAPOLIS – LaShawn Merritt has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after becoming the second-fastest indoor 400-meter runner in history Friday at the Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

    The 18-year-old Merritt clocked the third-fastest time ever indoors finishing in 44.93 seconds to win the race. USATF’s 2004 Verizon Youth Athlete of the Year, Merritt is slower than the legendary Michael Johnson’s world record time of 44.63, set in 1995, and Johnson’s 1996 time of 44.66. It is the fastest time ever run by a junior (19-and-under) athlete indoors.

    With his race in Fayetteville, Merritt bettered his own 2005 world leader of 45.94 by more than a full second. A freshman at East Carolina, Merritt won three gold medals at the 2004 World Junior Championships, including the 400 meters (45.25) and anchoring Team USA to world junior records in the 4×100 (38.66) and 4x400m (3:01.09) relays.

    Additional world leading performers from last week include 2004 Olympian Derek Miles who cleared 5.85m/19-2.50 to win Saturday at the Zepter Pole Vault Stars Meeting in Donetesk, Ukraine. The 32-year-old added three centimeters to his previous best set three years ago. Matt Tegenkamp, a senior at the University of Wisconsin, shattered his own Big Ten and UW record in the 5000 meters at the Husky Classic in Seattle Saturday, running the nation’s fastest time of 13 minutes, 36.48 seconds. His time, which was almost eight seconds better than his previous conference and school record of 13:44.06 set last season, was an NCAA automatic qualifying time.

    Now in its fifth year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.

    2005 USATF Athlete of the Week Winners: January 4, Amy Rudolph; January 11, Dathan Ritzenhein; January 18, Janine Davis; January 25, Wallace Spearmon Jr.; February 1, Erin Gilreath; February 8, LaShawn Merritt; February 15, LaShawn Merritt.

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