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Merritt fires Berlin worlds warning to Wariner

OLYMPIC 400-meter champion LaShawn Merritt laid down a significant marker for world championship rival Jeremy Wariner with a comfortable victory at the Tsiklitiria Athens Grand Prix on Monday.

The 23-year-old Merritt, who finished behind Wariner in the 2007 world championships but beat his fellow American to win gold in Beijing, clocked 44.54 seconds to cruise to victory at the Olympic Stadium.

Merritt only missed his season-best performance by 0.04 seconds and his run suggested Wariner would need to produce something special to retain his world title in Berlin next month.

"I wanted to run a little faster but I'll take the victory," Merritt said after finishing ahead of compatriot David Neville and Congolese athlete Gary Kikaya.

"I ran well, but more importantly I feel fresh and ready for Berlin."

Merritt said he believed Michael Johnson's world mark of 43.18 would be broken soon. "I think it can be broken. I've come off a long season last year and I'm still running well this year. I'm still kind of young and the record is definitely one of my goals.

"Jeremy hasn't been racing much this year so I haven't been able to follow him closely," he said. "But I know he will be well prepared and very strong in Berlin. I've just got to concentrate on myself and be ready."

Jamaica's women also sent out a strong message to their rivals.

World champion Veronica Campbell-Brown sealed victory in the 100 in impressive fashion, pulling away from American Carmelita Jeter to win in 10.96 seconds.

It was the first time this season the 27-year-old has gone under 11 seconds.

"I am very happy with my performance, it was a close race," she said.

Campbell-Brown's compatriot Novlene Williams-Mills enjoyed a comfortable victory in the 400 in a season-best time of 50.05 seconds and another Jamaican, Isa Philips, showed why he is highly fancied to win gold in Berlin by winning the 400 hurdles in 48.09 seconds.

The crowd was treated to a great show by Greek long jumper Louis Tsatoumas, who produced a season-best leap of 8.21 meters to finish just four centimeters behind winner Fabrice Lapierre of Australia.


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