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CHRONICLING ECU & C-USA SPORTS
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View from the 'ville
Thursday, August 28, 2008

By Al Myatt

Merritt emerging as money machine

By Al Myatt
©2008 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

Former East Carolina track coach Bill Carson had a lengthy conversation with LaShawn Merritt on Wednesday following the former Pirate star's double-gold medal performance in the Beijing Olympics last week.

Carson said Merritt watched Jamaican Usain Bolt's lifting technique in the second 100 meters of the 200 and used a similar stride to pull away from 2004 gold medalist Jeremy Wariner in the 400 last Thursday in China.

It was a return to a technique that Carson had taught Merritt in Greenville. Merritt spent the day before the 400 studying tape of his competitors before leaving them behind at the Bird's Nest.

Carson speculated that a race may develop between Bolt and Merritt in the 400.

"That could be a million-dollar race," Carson said. "I think Usain may be the only one capable of challenging LaShawn in the 400 in the next few years. Usain may try to get all three world records in the 100, 200 and 400."

Carson said Merritt's contract with Nike runs out this year. Merritt signed a $2 million deal with the sports equipment giant during his freshman year at ECU in 2004-05.

"It's going to cost Nike a pretty penny," Carson said. "They won't get him for $2 million again."

Carson said Merritt has what it takes to be an ambassador in track and field.

"I said all he needed to do was get that medal and it would open up for him," said Carson, who will be inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. "He's very articulate and self-assured, but he's humble.

"He's not a guy who's going to embarrass anybody in any way."

Carson said he had intended to watch the replay of Merritt's race on Thursday night without knowing the outcome but inadvertently heard the results on ESPN Radio as he returned to his home in Cullowhee from visiting a friend in Kingsport, TN.

"That was OK," Carson said. "It allowed me to watch and be thoroughly analytical."

Carson got phone calls for interviews into Friday morning.

"It was kind of like one last hurrah for me," Carson said.

Merritt kept his former coach's attention in the ensuing 4x400 relay as well.

"They asked LaShawn which leg he wanted to run and he wanted to run the leadoff," Carson said. "He said let me go out and let's see if they can catch us. LaShawn ran 44-flat in lane seven, which is tougher to do than lane four, five or six."

The United States team won the relay race easily to give Merritt his second gold of the games.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

08/28/2008 02:13:25 AM
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