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LaShawn Merritt crushes Kirani James for world title in 400 meters (video)

Aug 13, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT

LaShawn Merritt turned one of the most anticipated head-to-head showdowns at the World Championships into a rout.

The American blasted past reigning world and Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada in the 400-meter final Tuesday, winning in 43.74 seconds. The two were expected to battle closely for gold, but James was behind after 300 meters and appeared to tighten up on the final straightaway, never challenging.

“I put the pedal to the metal,” Merritt, who watched some of his previous races in preparation Monday night, told Universal Sports. “I knew it was going to take a 43-second race, and that’s what I was ready for mentally and physically. I told my coach, ‘We’re going to have to run a little bit tonight.’”

American Tony McQuay took silver in 44.40, one of six runners to beat the fading James (44.99). Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic earned bronze in 44.52 to follow up his Olympic silver medal.

World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule

Merritt, 27 and the 2008 Olympic champion, set a personal best by .01 of a second and became the third man to win multiple world titles in the event, joining fellow Americans Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner. He failed to advance out of the heats at the London Olympics, beset by injury.

“I wanted to come back on this big stage, this world stage and put a great race together,” said Merritt, who mouthed “I’m back” to cameras after winning. “That’s what I did.”

James, 20, was more than one second slower than his fastest time of this season and his Olympic-winning time.

“I just died,” James told Universal Sports. “That doesn’t usually happen. I’m not quite sure what happened.”

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  1. ellabeepr - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Amazing race! THAT is the LaShawn Merritt I’ve come to know and love. That looks like his 2008 Olympics race. When LaShawn is 100% at the top of his game, no one is catching him. And for Team USA to go 1-2…AMAZING! Tony McQuay, so happy for him!

  2. qcubed3 - Aug 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    I’ve got to eat some humble pie on my Kirani pick. But, that was an awesome race. Merritt didn’t even look the least bit distressed.

  3. humbleswift - Aug 14, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    I knew that was going to happen but i thought kirani would be sub44 as well

  4. ellabeepr - Aug 14, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    This 4×4 is going to be awesome!

  5. cuttitoffshen - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    With all respect to Michael Johnson but Leshawn Merritt’s Excellent Race strategy had nothing to do with Kirani James’s sub par performance. So dont go running your mouth off and praising on athlete by the expense of another. Yall too Bias!

  6. cuttitoffshen - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    “The American blasted past reigning world and Olympic champion Kirani…….”<This statement is invalid. How could he blast past James if he was clearly ahead of James the entire race? Yall need to stop being so Bias! Cant wait for K.James to Shut yall up again especially Michael Johnson, he done it before he'll do it again

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