|LaShawn Merritt brings his star power to Toronto next month.|
It’s a ritual he’s followed since high school and it’s a tribute to his older brother Antwan, who died when LaShawn was just 13, falling out of a dorm window at college while trying to avoid a fight. His brother was his hero. Whatever his Antwan did, LaShawn wanted to follow.
“He never got to see me do what I love to do, so it kind of boils down to us doing it together,” said Merritt this week. “We’re stepping out together. He pretty much guides me through it. … It’s kind of like doing it for the both of us.”
At just 22, Merritt is a rising star in the track world. He knocked off fellow American Jeremy Wariner at the Beijing Games and makes it clear he’s not content at being an Olympic champion.
“It don’t stop there," said Merritt. "It’s one of the things, one of the goals I wanted to accomplish. I’m Olympic champion, but I still want the world record, I still want to be world champion. Olympic champion is great, something that can’t be taken away from me. But it doesn’t stop.
“I’m only 22. It’s one stepping stone. I plan on running in several more Olympics, more world championships and world records eventually. It feels good, but not all I think about.”
“I don’t really even see the medals unless I have to pull ‘em out for an appearance. Forward movement now.”
You gotta give the organizers of the Festival of Excellence their props. Not only did they pull off the feat of getting Jamaican triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt as the headliner – thanks to Cambridge Mile organizer John Carson’s connections – but Carl Georgevski and David Reid are assembling a stellar supporting cast.