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LaShawn Merritt is an athlete competing in Track & Field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA.

LaShawn Merritt will make his second Olympic appearance for the United States this summer in London where he will contend for gold in the men's 400m and 4x400m relay. Merritt won two golds in Beijing.

Merritt won his third national 400m title at the U.S. Olympic Trials to make his second Olympic team. He won the 400 in 44.12 seconds, the best in the world this season.

In January, Merritt left Dwayne Miller, the man who guided him to two Olympic gold medals, four World Championship golds and two silvers, and moved from Virginia to Bradenton, Florida to work with coach Loren Seagrave at the IMG Academy. "With Loren, it's a lot different," Merritt explained. "The weight program is different and I'm doing a lot more sprint work. I'm getting into great shape and working hard. Being down at the IMG Academy, the weather is great. In Virginia the weather is funny, especially in January and February. I'm down there focusing in great weather with a great coach."

After his two year ban was reduced to 21 months, Merritt won an appeal of the IOC rule prohibiting athletes suspended for longer than six months from competing at the subsequent Olympics. When cleared, Merritt was allowed to compete again on the Diamond League circuit. In his first meet back, in Stockholm, he finished second in 44.74. As the reigning champion, Merritt received a bye into the World Championships. In Daegu, he ran a world-leading 44.35 in the opening round before eventually finishing second to Kirani James of Grenada. Merritt delivered gold for the U.S. in the men's 4x400m when he slingshot into the lead late on the anchor leg and held off Jamaica and the Bahamas. Afterward Merritt dubbed his move "The Virginia Shuffle."

On April 22, 2010 it was revealed that Merritt failed three drugs tests and as a result he accepted a provisional suspension. He claimed that the failed drug tests resulted from his use of the over-the-counter male-enhancement product, ExtenZe. Merritt stated that he did not read the small print to check the ingredients of the product, which contained the banned substance Dehydroepiandrosterone. He accepted a two-year ban for the infraction and stated that he had made a "foolish, immature and egotistical mistake. Any penalty I may receive for my action will not overshadow the embarrassment and humiliation I feel."

In 2009, Merritt embarked on a campaign to prove his run to the Olympic title was no flash in the pan. With Wariner already qualified for the World Championships as the defending champion, Merritt won the 400m going away at the USA Outdoor Championships, equalling his own world-leading mark of 44.50. At the Worlds in Berlin, Merritt beat Wariner again, running a world-leading 44.06. . Merritt closed out the season with a third straight victory over Wariner, this one at the Weltklasse Zurch meeting.

At the same time that Jeremy Wariner was getting acclimated to a new coach and training partner, Merritt was emerging as a new rival. Although he finished behind Wariner at the 2007 World Championships, his career was definitely on the upswing. Merritt fired the first salvo in 2008, beating Wariner at the Olympic Trials. In Beijing, Wariner qualified for the final with a time of 44.12, in a run which he slowed down considerably in the final 50 meters. This led to much anticipation that he could beat Michael Johnson's world record in the final, but instead he took the silver, losing to Merritt by nearly a full second. Wariner got a measure of revenge by beating Merritt at the Weltklasse Zurich meeting after the Olympics, but Merritt topped Wariner for the fourth time on the year at the World Athletics Final.

In 2007, Merritt finished just one-hundredth of a second out of first place at the USA Outdoor Championships in a season-best time of 44.06. At the World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Merritt went on to win silver in the 400m behind Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner, and won gold with Wariner on the 4x400m relay.

In his first season at East Carolina, Merritt shocked the world in becoming, at the time, the second-fastest indoor 400m runner in history behind Michael Johnson at the 2005 Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The 18-year-old finished in 44.93 seconds to win the race. Kerron Clement's 44.57 world record a month later at NCAA Indoors moved Merritt to third fastest athlete and fourth fastest time. The time remains the fastest ever run by a junior (19-and-under) athlete indoors.

Merritt left East Carolina's track program to turn professional prior to the end of his freshman indoor season. He is currently enrolled at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

As a high-schooler, Merritt won three gold medals at the 2004 World Junior Championships, including the 400m, and anchored Team USA to world junior records in the 4x100 and 4x400m relays. Merritt was the 2004 Virginia state 100m, 200m and 400m champion, and the 2003 Virginia state 400m champion.



LASHAWN MERRITT: FACTS

How tall is LaShawn Merritt? How old is LaShawn Merritt? Where does LaShawn Merritt live? Find out here.

Age: 28 years old
Birthday: June 27, 1986
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Birthplace: Portsmouth, VA
Current Residence: Bradenton, FL





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