Wariner Chasing 43sec and MJ's WR

Posted on 01 June 2006 - 17:49

Jeremy Wariner has Michael Johnson’s 400-meter world record on his mind heading into the opening Golden League meet of the season.
“Definitely,” Wariner said when asked if he can break Johnson’s time of 43.18, set at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain. "I ran my very first 400 (this season) in 44.12 in April, so I know it’s possible for me to go 43 this early.

“My training has been going great. I’m stronger and faster. But when it’s going to happen, you don’t know.”

Wariner, the Olympic and world 400 champion, hopes to dominate the one-lap race like Johnson, the former Olympic champion who now serves as Wariner’s agent.

The 22-year-old American can still improve.

“My first 50 meters can get better … there are little things we have to work on each year,” said Wariner, who also will be trying to beat Johnson’s Bislett Stadium record of 43.86, set in 1995, in Friday’s Bislett Games.

Two other Americans, Lashawn Merritt and Darold Williamson, are in the eight-man field.

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, who shares the 100-meter world record of 9.77 with American Justin Gatlin, heads the 100 field.

The Golden League consists of six European meets. The others are in Paris, Rome, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin.

This year, the jackpot is split in two: US$500,000 to be shared among the athletes who win their event in five of the six meets, and the same amount to be shared among the athletes who win their event in all six Golden League meets. Those who win all six will also get a share of the first jackpot.

Seven other reigning Olympic champions will compete at Bislett -Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania (discus), Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (5,000), Shawn Crawford of the United States (200), Carolina Kluft of Sweden (heptathlon), Dwight Phillips of the United States (long jump), Elena Slesarenko of Russia (high jump) and Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway (javelin).

Kluft will compete in the long jump. She also plans to double in the long jump and heptathlon at the European Championships in Goteborg, Sweden, in August.

Kajsa Bergqvist, another Swedish world champion, heads the high jump field along with Slesarenko.