Reigning world 400m champion LaShawn Merritt and Olympic 400m hurdles gold medallist Felix Sanchez will compete at February’s Perth Track Classic.
Set to compete alongside Australia’s London 2012 golden girl Sally Pearson and world championship javelin silver medallist Kim Mickle, the high-profile duo will launch the Australian Athletics Tour on Saturday February 22 at the Western Australia Athletics Stadium, with the event being the first on the calendar for 2014.
Sanchez of Dominica won hurdles gold in London at the 2012 Olympics, eight years after his triumph at the Athens Games.
He has competed at four Olympics, debuting in Sydney in 2000, and has appeared in the 400m hurdles or 4x400m relay final on eight occasions at world championships.
Sanchez also won gold in the 400m hurdles at the Goodwill Games in Brisbane in 2001.
“I learned so much as an athlete in Sydney and – for the next four years, leading to my win in Athens – I would always compete wearing the illuminated wristband that was presented to me in the athletes’ village as motivation to push for the Olympic Games again,” Sanchez said.
“I haven’t been to the western half of Australia before though, so it will be my first time in Perth which is great. Word is that the conditions are perfect.”
American Merritt’s international resume is equally impressive, the 27-year-old winning 11 medals, including eight gold, in the 400m and 4x400m relay at Olympic Games or world championships.
In Moscow in August, Merritt stopped the clock at 43.74 to regain the world title he won for the first time at the 2009 championships in Berlin. His performance made him the fifth fastest man in history and one of only 10 men to break the magical 44-second barrier.
“I’m pumped to get back to Australia. It will be my first visit since way back in 2007. I ran in Melbourne and Sydney then so this will be my first hitout in Perth. I like new challenges so, starting my season with a race on a fresh track, is a bold but positive move,” Merritt said.