Former world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt is set to open his Olympic season at the 2021 Tom Jones Memorial Invitational at the James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, this weekend. The meeting which is hosted by the University of Florida will run across two days on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, with the live results available at Half-Mile Timing.
Merritt, who captured the gold medal in the 400m at the 2008 Olympic Games and followed up that performance with gold medal performances in the same event at the 2009 and 2013 World Championships, will line up in the men’s 200m in Gainesville, on Friday as part of his preparations for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.
The American who last competed in the 200m in 2019, will feature in heat two of the event at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational where he will battle against a very strong field.
Merritt who owns a personal best of 19.74 seconds and has five times under 20-seconds in his career, will race from lane seven where he will go up against Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut who is set to open his Olympic season and race for the first time since 2019.
American Kyree King who is coming off a 9.97 seconds personal best performance to win the men’s 100m at the 2021 Miramar Invitational last weekend, will also feature in the same heat with Merritt and Vicaut, and base on his last outing, the 26-year-old will start as the favorite in that section.
Josephus Lyles of USA, Jamaican Andre Ewers and Italian Antonio Infantino will also race from heat two.
Meanwhile, world 400m bronze medalist Fred Kerley will lead the list of starters who will race in heat one.
Kerley who has already lowered his 100m personal best several times this season, including his 10.03 seconds clocking in Clermont, FL, on April 4, will face the likes of fellow Americans Trayvon Bromell, Isiah Young, and Christopher Belcher, as well as Canadian Aaron Brown, Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago and Nigerian Divine Oduduru.
Jamaicans Christopher Taylor, Senoj-Ja Givans and Tyquendo Tracey will battle in the third heat of the men’s 200m as they too continue their preparations for the Games in Japan later this summer.