"Just get me the baton, I'll do the rest."
That's LaShawn Merritt's philosophy and it's a winning one.
Two days after settling for the silver medal in the individual 400 meters at the 13th World Championships of Track and Field, the Portsmouth product and Wilson High School graduate ran a comfortable 46-second anchor leg to carry his USA team to a 2:58.82 victory in its semifinal section of the 4x400-meter relay at Daegu Stadium.
With Greg Nixon, Jamaal Torrance and Michael Berry running the first three legs, the Americans easily beat Jamaica (2:59.13), South Africa (2:59.21), Great Britain (3:00.38) and four others in their semi and advanced into the Friday night, eight-team final. Belgium (3:00.71) and Russia (3:00.81) led the second section.
"There were four (USA) 400-meter runners who lined up and they were told to just go out there and do their job, go out there and run a hard 400," said Merritt. "We're pretty confident we can put four legs together and compete with the best in the world."
USA has won the 4x400 three straight times and was first team to cross the line in eight of the previous 12 world championship meets. However, just two of the four earlier losses came on the track; two of them were annulled by subsequent drug disqualifications of team members.
Merritt's 44.16 lap had anchored USA to a 2:57.86 world championship in the event over Great Britain (3:00.53) in Berlin in 2009. He ran a 44.40 leadoff leg on the 2007 team that won in 2:55.56 over the Bahamas (2:59.18) in Osaka.
"It was real, real relaxed," Nixon said. "The key for us is get the stick around pretty clean. We're ready to go."
Added Torrance: "Everybody did fantastic, 2:58 in the first round is real fast."