James edges Merritt in world-leading time

Eugene: Grenada`s Olympic champion Kirani James stormed to a world-leading time as he won his first major 400 metres duel of the year with American Lashawn Merritt at the Prefontaine Classic here on Sunday. The 21-year-old James clocked 43.97 - the same time as Merritt - as he barely edged out the world champion in a close finish at Hayward Field, in the third meet of the lucrative IAAF Diamond League series Saturday, reports CMC.

"We`ll go at it many more times," Merritt said.

Youssef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia finished third in a season-best 44.77 seconds while Bahamian Chris Brown also posted a season-best 45.15 as he came home fourth. There was disappointment for World silver medallist Tony McQuay, however, as the American finished down the field in seventh, in a time of 46.25 seconds.

The result for James was a reversal of last year`s finish at the event when Merritt took the tape first with James second. Meanwhile, Jamaican Novlene Williams-Mills won the women`s equivalent, racing to a time of 50.40 seconds, to finish ahead of American Francena McCorory who clocked 50.53 seconds. Jamaican Stephenie McPherson was third in 50.63.

Kaliese Spencer kept Jamaica`s flag in the spotlight by capturing the women`s 400 metres hurdles in a world-leading 54.29 seconds. Americans Kori Carter (55.22) and Tiffany Williams (55.97) were second and third respectively.

Jamaican Shevon Stoddard trailed in fourth in 56.15 seconds. There was a massive shock in the women`s 200 metres, however, when Jamaican superstar sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished dead last in 23.06 seconds.

American Tori Bowie clocked 22.18 seconds, the fastest time this year, as she beat Nigerian Blessing Okagbare who was timed at a personal best 22.23. Olympic champion Allyson Felix of the US was third with 22.14 seconds.

American Justin Gatlin continued his great form this year, clocking a wind-assisted 9.76 seconds, to remain undefeated this season. He was ahead of compatriot Michael Rodgers who was second in 9.80 seconds, with Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut third in 9.89 - the same time as Jamaican Nesta Carter who was fourth.

Nickel Ashmeade, also of Jamaica, was fifth in 9.95 seconds. In the men`s sprint hurdles, Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde sped to a world-leading 13.13 seconds as he beat Jamaican Hansle Parchment into second in 13.20.

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