KOBE, Japan -
Former UC San Diego track standout Christine Merrill added another accolade to her already impressive resume earlier this month after claiming a bronze medal at the 19th Asian Athletics Championships in Japan.
Merrill, a one-time NCAA National Champion and eight-time All-American for the Tritons from 2007-10, finished third overall in the 400-meter hurdles at the Universiade Stadium in Kobe on July 9. Competing for the country of Sri Lanka, the Bakersfield, Calif. native came on strong in the final sprint to surpass two competitors and post a final time of 57.30.
The finish was just short of her prelim time of 56.83 from the day before, which was a personal best and set a new Sri Lankan National record in the event. Merrill held the previous record of 58.40 following a strong performance at the 53rd Annual Mt. SAC Championships in April.
"I had some stumbling at the back straight and that's why I was unable to reach the time I aimed for, but overall, I am highly satisfied with my run," Merrill told The Sunday Times after the race. "This would be special as it is my first international medal for Sri Lanka."
Japan's Satomi Kubokura claimed the gold with a winning time of 56.52, while Qi Yang of China earned silver at 56.69.
Merrill's finish of 57.30 was also a touch shy of the qualification standard of 56.55 for next month's World Championships in Daegu, Korea or the 2012 London Olympics. She will have another opportunity to qualify at the National Athletic Championships, which will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka August 4-7.
"My main aim was to shave those few fractions of a second from my timing," Merrill told the Times. "It did not happen, but I still have time to achieve it and I am confident that I will definitely do it."
One of the top hurdlers in program history, Merrill set school records in both the 400 hurdles (58.04) and 400-meter dash (54.76) as a senior at UCSD in 2010. As a junior, she won the NCAA Division II title in the high hurdles after posting a first place time of 58.59 in San Angelo, Texas.