American runner LaShawn Merritt, and former ECU Pirate, will not compete in the 4x400-meter relay Thursday after being sent home from the Olympics to get treatment on an injured left hamstring.
He pulled up in his 400-meter heat Saturday after feeling a twinge in his leg. Merritt won Olympic gold in the 400 four years ago in Beijing and added another as a member of the relay squad.
The U.S. team has won every 4x400 Olympic relay they have competed in since 1976.
Merritt’s coach, Loren Seagrave, said in an email: “He’s mentally good. He immediately refocused on the task at hand, get everything right.”
The absence of Merritt may pave the way for Jeremy Wariner, who didn’t qualify for London in the 400 at U.S. Trials but was named to the relay. Wariner ran the last lap to bring home gold in 2008.
Defending champion LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. pulled up in the backstretch of his 400-meter preliminary heat, stopped in his quest for a second straight Olympic title by an ailing left hamstring.
Merritt got off to a bad start, fell behind early and stopped running after about 200 meters. He limped slowly off the track, an unsatisfying end to a tumultuous four years for the sprinter.
Merritt served a 21-month drug suspension between Olympics and needed a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport to become eligible for these games.
He was the gold-medal favorite coming into London, but hurt himself in a tuneup race. His coach said this week that Merritt's status for the Olympics was shaky.
Merritt was expected to lead the Americans in the 4x400-meter relay, which starts Thursday.