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Posted: May 17, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: Merritt and Felix shine brightest among the stars in LA

CARSON, Calif. - Olympic gold medalists LaShawn Merritt, Allyson Felix and Jeremy Wariner handily dispatched the competition in their respective races, which highlighted competition Saturday at the 2009 adidas Track Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Held under partly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 70s, the adidas Track Classic is the third event of USA Track & Field's 2009 Visa Outdoor Championships Series.

2008 Olympic 400m gold medalist LaShawn Merritt cruised to victory in 20.07 seconds in the Nutrilite men's 200m, with 2006 NCAA quadruple champion Xavier Carter second in 20.71 and Kelly Willie third in 20.73. For his efforts, while running his non-traditional event, Merritt was named the Team USA Athlete of the Meet, presented by Visa.

On the women's side, two-time Olympic silver medalist and World Outdoor champion Allyson Felix dominated the adidas women's 200m, leading off the curve into a 1.9mps headwind and powering to the finish in 22.66. 2008 Olympic 400m bronze medalist Sanya Richards was the runner-up in 23.03 and Sholanda Solomon, the 2006 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 200m champion, was third in 23.10.

Two-time Olympic medalist and two-time World Outdoor champion Jeremy Wariner, who is back training with renowned coach Clyde Hart, easily won the Visa men's 400m in 44.66 while the Bahamas' Chris Brown was second in 45.03. Rennie Quow of Trinidad and Tobago was third in 45.05.

In a race that featured the Olympic champions from the past three Olympic Games, reigning World Outdoor champion and Olympic silver medalist Kerron Clement powered down the home stretch to win the men's 400m hurdles in a world-leading 48.38, holding off two-time Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor who finished second in 48.70. 2004 Olympic gold medalist Felix Sanchez was third in 48.95. It was a controversial win for Clement, as the eighth hurdle in the race was set incorrectly, too close to the seventh.

2008 Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper, building off of her surprising win in Beijing, shot out of the blocks in the Visa women's 100m hurdles and hammered her way to the win with a lean at the finish in 12.78. Two-time World Outdoor medalist Perdita Felicien was the runner-up in 12.83 while two-time World Outdoor champion Michelle Perry was third in 12.84.

2008 Olympic and World Indoor silver medalist Jenn Stuczynski went unchallenged in the women's pole vault, not entering the field until the other competitors had exited. She cleared 4.76 meters/15 feet 7.25 inches on her first attempt before moving the bar to an American record height of 4.93m/16-2 at which Stuczynski had three good attempts but failed to clear the bar. 2000 Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Outdoor champion Stacy Dragila was the runner-up with 4.42m/14-6.

In the women's 400m, Beijing 4x400m gold medalist Natasha Hastings won the race, while keeping both shoes on, finishing in 51.46. Novlene Williams of Jamaica was the runner-up in 51.83 and Shereefa Lloyd (JAM) took third in 52.03.

After three delays in the women's 100m, one call-up and two false starts, 2007 World Outdoor bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter ran away with the win in 11.09 with two-time Olympian Muna Lee the runner-up in 11.22. In the adidas men's 100m, two-time Olympian Darvis Patton got out strong and won in 10.12.

With good early season splits of 56.2, 1:54.9 and 2:54.9, two-time Olympic medalist and 2007 double World champion Bernard Lagat won the men's 1,500m in 3:36.38. Canada's Nate Brannen was second in 3:37.03. In the women's 1,500m, Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair was the winner in 4:13.16.

In the women's 3,000m steeplechase, 2008 Olympic Trials champion Anna Willard won in 9:26.85. It was the fastest time ever run on American soil. 2008 Olympic Trials runner-up Lindsay Anderson was again second to Willard, running 9:37.88.

Also on the track, Aheza Kiron won the Nutrilite women's 5,000m in 14:56.33 and 2004 Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Outdoor champion Dwight Phillips the men's long jump in 8.37m/27-5.5. Three-time Olympian Hazel Clark won the women's 800m in a meet record 2:01.40 and three-time USA Outdoor champion Ian Waltz won the men's discus with 61.70m/202-5. Yvette Lewis won the women's triple jump with a hop, skip and leap of 13.82m/45-4.25 and Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia won the men's 5,000m in 13:16.52.

For more information on the adidas Track Classic and the 2009 Visa Championship Series, visit www.visachampionshipseries.com.

Athlete's Quotes:

Ian Waltz, men's discus winner
I'm just happy to be healthy. Last year at the (Olympic) Trials I tore my adductor muscle in my stomach. I'm finally throwing pain free.
I feel like I'm a month or two behind where I need to be but that's okay because World's are in August.
No matter which meet it is, it's about winning no matter what the distance.

Hazel Clark, women's 800m winner
I wasn't really happy with the beginning. I kept my composure and held on at the end. I think my coach will be happy.
Every week I want to get faster and stronger and get ready for nationals.
It wasn't really a smart race or a clean race.
I stopped setting goals for Worlds and the Olympics. I found it was just so much pressure.

Kerron Clement - men's 400m hurdles winner
I'm really happy to come out and compete against the top guys like Angelo (Taylor) and James Carter. I just stayed focused on myself and came up with the win.
I knew something was wrong after the 7th hurdle. I just took it regardless. I was a 110 hurdler so I know how to adjust. I just didn't let it affect me at all.

Natasha Hastings - women's 400m winner
I'm used to running out hard. I got out pretty good.
Once I came off the final turn. I gave it all I had.
It makes me feel good that I can run well with one shoe and then run well with both shoes on this week.

Dawn Harper - women's 100m hurdle winner
We restarted it seemed like 3 times, so I had to get refocused. My start was okay. I thought I was flat a couple in the middle. I knew I had to leave it all on the line at the end with Perdita (Felicien) and that's what I did.
The time may not show it, but I'm ready for strong competition.

Terrence Trammell - men's 110m hurdles winner
I'm happy with the win. I feel good. I'm looking to do some big things. Things are working out really well.

Carmelita Jeter - women's 100m winner
The race was a little scary with so many false starts and someone getting kicked out of the race. My coach and I have been working on coming back and keeping my composure. I'm usually the one that lays back in the blocks. This time I didn't do that.

Dwight Phillips - men's long jump winner
I'm satisfied with the win today. I wanted to do a lot better. I already have the world leading jump but it was a little windy out here. I am coming out to redeem myself and win the World Championships.

Darvis Patton - men's 100m winner
I was happy to come out and win against this great competition. Beating the Olympic silver medalist is always good, but the whole field was strong. Coming out with a victory is always good. It's a good indicator and a confidence booster.

Bernard Lagat - men's 1,500m winner
I am really pleased with winning.
I was feeling good all the way. Even at the bell I wanted to go. So I had to wait, wait, wait. So I went at about 150 and it worked out.

LaShawn Merritt - men's 200m winner
Before the race my calf was cramping a little bit. I didn't get out as hard because of it. It was a little sluggish. I was just going to build into it. I came off the curve and had the strength to hold.
I've been doing some speed work during the winter. I just wanted to test it out. It felt good.

Allyson Felix - women's 200m winner
I'm just pleased to get out there and have a good performance. I had hoped it would be a little faster than it was. I always try to run home strong.
It's really special to run here. This is the only time many of my family members will get to see me run.

Jenn Stuczinski - women's pole vault winner
I'm a little disappointed. I should have had 4.93m with the pole I was on. It's early. I love coming to LA and competing at the adidas meet. I'm looking for a little more consistency. I feel stronger. I'm definitely a lot stronger.

Jeremy Wariner - men's 400m winner >BR>I executed better than I should have. Right now I'm just focusing on every part of the race. I recently got back with my old coach (Clyde Hart). Coach Ford is a wonderful coach. Experience made the difference. I went back with Coach Hart.

Anna Willard - women's steeplechase world
It was good today. I was kind of going for a PR. I'm a little disappointed. I respond to competition a lot more than running out there by myself. I need someone breathing down my neck.
I did well today, it's a good opener.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.


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