Uphill task for Lanka’s Merrill
The sole Lankan at the track US based Lankan Sonali Merrill will be in action tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium any time between 7 p.m. and 7.45 p.m. London time when she will be featured in the first round of the Women’s 400m hurdles event.Her best time in this is 56:83 – however a bit behind the qualifying times of 55:50 in the ‘A’ category and 56:65 in ‘B’ category. She achieved her best time of 56:83 in Kobe, Japan last year.
Besides her athletics she has earned a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California while also indulging in her athletics. Merrill has been working full time while training to pay her way through pre-Olympic meets around the world. Her training usually takes place before work, according athletic sources.
The talk at this end is that Natalya Antyukh of Russia — the fastest 400m hurdler in the world this year, will present a strong threat to Beijing 2008 gold medallist Melaine Walker of Jamaica and 2011 world champion Lashinda Demus of the United States this time.
Demus is looking to add an Olympic gold to her 2011 world title and two world silver medals. The athlete took gold from Walker in Daegu, Korea, last summer as Walker had to settle for second. If she wins, she would be the first USA athlete to win gold in this event.
Walker will be the first female athlete to achieve gold twice in the 400m hurdles if she can repeat her Beijing victory, but she is yet to run under 54 seconds this season. She also won the 2009 world championships title.
Antyukh took the 400m bronze without the barriers in Athens 2004 and went on to become European champion in 2010 in her first year of serious hurdling before finishing third at the 2011 world championships in Daegu. The Russian champion tops the 2012 world list with a best time of 53.40 from the national championships in Cheboksary in July.
The Lankan girl will take part in the last women’s 400m sprint heat and will be pitted against the ‘gold’ defender who will run in lane six. The list for the fifth heat will read : (lane wise) Hayat Lambarki of Morocco, Jailma de Lima of Brazil, Perri Shakes-Drayton of Great Britain, Hanna Yaroshchuk of Ukraine, Xiaoxiao Huang of China, Melaine Walker of Jamaica, Satomi Kubokura of Japan, Deborah Rodriguez of Uruguay and Christine Sonali Merrill of Sri Lanka.
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