By Mark Jones, World-Track

l-merrittPARIS — World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt is targeting fast times during the major championships off season next year.

Merritt dethroned fellow countryman and former world no.1 Jeremy Wariner of his 400 metres titles at both the Beijing Olympics and Berlin world championships and he now sets his sights on Michael Johnson’s 43.18 seconds world record.

“I think about Michael Johnson’s record like I want to get there, but I don’t go into a race thinking about it,” said Merritt, who owns a personal record of 43.75secs.

“But the world record is a goal of mine and I definitely feel like I’ve got that extra bit of time in me.”

Merritt, who had the gold medal in Berlin as his main target this term, has been consistent and undefeated throughout the season thus far.

The American has the top five times this year, including the world-leading time of 44.02seconds, and he said 2010 will be all about times.

“Next year will all be about times – I just want to try and drop my times and not run as many races,” he said.

“This year was a World Championship year so it was more about winning races – when it comes to the World Championships you just want to get there and win it and that’s what I did.

“Next year is an off year so I’ll try to focus on my speed in training.”

Merritt plans to end his busy season after this weekend’s World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he will meet Wariner again. He said he will take a six week break to relax before starting his preparation for the new season in November.

“After the World Athletics Final I will take six weeks off to relax and start back in November with some base training,” he noted.

“I’m only young and I’ve got many more years in the sport but I’ve had a great year to date.”

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