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Quotes from Drake Relays Press Conference

Lashawn Merritt, 400m
On a rematch with Kirani James this year
“I feel good. Early in the season, Drake is obviously an exciting meet to kick the season off with. Last year was great. This year should be great as well. We have a lot of great talent here in the 400 and in a lot of the races, so to line up against each other, it’s nothing foreign. This is what we do. It’s going to be many more this year and for years to come, so we take each race one at a time and handle business.
On running a race like this with this type of competition so early in the season
“It doesn’t matter. When we line up, we want to obviously go out and execute a race. You know it’s early, but it’s here. It’s started. This is what we train for. We train to get here early on in the season and give the fans a show. Like I said, this is one of the bigger events in the United States, so to actually be able to line up - other than Prefontaine - to come here and have the caliber of athletes in this race is great for the sport.
On the impact of temperatures of rainy weather
“You think about it. But when you think about it, you think that the weather is going to be what it is. Everybody who lines up is going to be in the same climate. If it rains in my lane, it’s going to rain in everyone else’s lane. So you just go out and get mentally prepared, and if it’s a little bit chilly, you make sure you have enough clothes and you warm up good. And when the gun goes off, you go run 400 meters.
On what if he’s going to World Relays and what he’s looking forward to
Yes, I’m going to be a part of the 4x400-meter relay team [at World Relays].
Another thing I’m excited to see is 200 event they have here with the [Paralympians]. I think that’s great that they’re going to have that. I think that’s going to be cool on Friday night.
Dawn Harper-Nelson, 100mH
On what it’s like to be back
“It makes you nervous because Drake has done a great job with HyVee, lining up the best. I’ve heard we have the top-seven out of 10 in the world, so I’m excited because the stands are going to be full, and it’s going to be loud and fast, so I’m just excited. It’s good.”
On what she looks forward to most outside of the track
“It’s still typically the fans. For me, that’s still the biggest part for me. Like you said, the competition - we already know what that’s going to be like. But the fact that you meet so many people - just even warming up, walking over. You see people that are like, ‘Dawn, I’ve know you from, and I’ve followed you since you were in high school,” and they give you your stats. And you’re like, ‘How’d you know.’ So for me, that was like the greatest thing. Typically for East St. Louis we have two buses that come over, and so it’s like 60-something people that will come and see me run, so that’s really fun for me to see a lot of familiar faces. Because they never get to see me in person, so it’s always on TV, but they get to see me in person.
On what it’s like to compete here with stacked fields
“They’ve done a good job of making it a big event, I mean something that you go to sleep nervous like, ‘I want to perform; I want to win here.’ Sometimes you go to some races, and it’s like, ‘I’m working on something here and there.’ Although my coaches told me, ‘I want you to go there and work on your start and execute.’ But it like, execute and win. Competing here is like a big stage for me. It’s on your home turf. It’s in the States. You’re friends and family get to see you, so it means a lot to me.
On how vital it is in the schedule to have a Midwestern meet this early in the season
“On the schedule for it to be this early, it’s really just something that, as my coach would say, it’s really just something the athlete would want to do. It’s not necessarily a make or break it for June or to make a team. Because it’s such a high meet, as in the caliber of athletes, it’s good to see where your head is - where your training is going. I think that’s why a lot of us line up. It’s good to say that it’s going to be the top athletes; where is my head; can I execute my race - all the things we’ve been working on.
On having an advantage with the weather, being from the Midwest
I sometimes tend to think that I do feel like I have a little bit of an edge because I am from the Midwest, so I have actually trained in snow before. I’ve been in L.A. for awhile. I won’t say that it’s crippled me a bit. But if it’s like 60, we should just call the meet. I’ve been home a couple times this year when it was actually in the 33 degrees, and I would still go outside and train. I told myself, ‘Suck it up. You’re going to be in situations where you’re going to have to run in that.’ This now would be a situation like that, so it’s just going to be about trying to keep your sweats on until the last complete second. The blessing is that we’re all going to be under the same conditions. So it’s going to be, as I’ve I read, 52 and rainy on Saturday, so it’s just like if it got to 32 and raining. The same people have to feel the same coldness.

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