Merrill improves national record to qualify for IAAF World Championships


By Reemus Fernando

US-based hurdler Sonali Merrill has earned qualifying standards to represent the country at the forthcoming IAAF World Championships in Moscow with a new national record in her pert event of 400 metres hurdles.

Merrill has clocked an impressive 56.45 seconds to improve her own national record at the San Diego Imperial USATF Association Championships in California, USA, on June 8, the Athletics Association of Sri Lanka confirmed. The ‘B’ standard in the women’s 400 metres hurdles for the Moscow games is set at 56.55 seconds (‘A’ standard- 55.40sec).

It was the first time in two years that the 25-year-old improved on the national mark. Her previous best of 56.83 seconds was set two years ago at the Asian Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan.

The US-born dual citizenship holder is the only Sri Lankan track and field athlete to have earned qualifying standards for the world event to date. Her qualification effectively closes the door for local female athletes to win wildcards for the world event and challenges them to work hard to earn their place for the world event. The Athletics Association of Sri Lanka is expecting a few others to earn qualifying standards for the world event.

Merrill was Sri Lanka’s wildcard entrant in the female category for both the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 IAAF World Championships after topping the list of best performers for Sri Lanka during the last couple of years.

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