James hammers Merritt again in 400m race in Diamond League

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Shanghai, May 18 (IANS) Olympic champion Kirani James has defeated reigning world title holder Lashawn Merritt in the 400 metres for the second time this year at the Shanghai Diamond League here.

The 22-year-old Grenadian, himself a former world champion, clocked 44.66 seconds to outrun world silver medallist Tony McQuay of the US who clocked 45.54 seconds, and Merritt who trailed in third in 45.58 seconds on Sunday, reports CMC.

Only last month, James beat Merritt into fifth at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, en route to a world leading 44.22 seconds.

Running out of lane four, James got away smartly and cruised down the backstretch, making up the stagger on Merritt in lane five, with 100 metres run.

He was ahead after 200 metres and came off the final turn with a four length lead, pulling away with powerful strides late on to cross the line unchallenged.

Trinidadian Renny Quow finished one from last in the nine-man field in 46.65 seconds.

James was joined in winners’ row by Jamaican Kaliese Spencer who snatched the women’s 400 metres hurdles in a world-leading 54.71 seconds.

She beat the American pair of Tiffany Williams (55.27 seconds) and Cassandra Tate (44.68 seconds) into second and third respectively, and said she had already trained her sights on the World Championships later this year.

Olympic silver and world bronze medallist, American Lashinda Demus finished fifth in a season-best 56.14 seconds.

There was disappointment for Jamaica, however, as world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce slumped to a fifth-place finish in the women’s 100 metres.

She clocked a sluggish 11.25 seconds in what was her opening 100 metres of the year, continuing a poor sequence that has seen her unable to dip below 11 seconds since 2013.

Nigerian Blessing Okagbare clocked 10.98 seconds for the victory with American Tori Bowie second in 11.07 seconds and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, third in 11.13 seconds.

Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, a silver medallist in CWG Glasgow last year, was fourth in 11.22 seconds while her counterpart Schillonie Calvert was one from last in the nine-woman field in 11.53 seconds.

In the men’s 200 metres, Jamaica claimed two of the top three spots as Panama’s Edward Alonso took gold in 20.33 seconds.

Julian Forte, a world Junior finalist in 2012, clocked 20.36 seconds for second while Nickel Ashmeade finished third in 20.44 seconds. Another Jamaican, Rasheed Dwyer, was third in 20.56 seconds.

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