Thu | May 25, 2017

Super Spencer - Hurdles star closes in on Diamond League title with Monaco victory; Americans Gatlin, Bowie set year-best times

Published:Saturday | July 19, 2014 | 7:00 AM
Justin Gatlin of US reacts after winning the men's 200m in a world-leading 19.68 seconds, during the Herculis International Athletics Meeting, at the Louis II Stadium, in Monaco, yesterday. - AP
Jamaica's Kaliese Spencer wins the 400m hurdles women's race during the Herculis International Athletics Meeting, at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco yesterday. - AP
Tori Bowie (right) of the US wins the women's100m race in front of Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, at the Herculis International Athletics Meeting, at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco, yesterday. Bowie won in a world-leading 10.80 seconds. - AP
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Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

Kaliese Spencer last night all but wrapped up the 2014 Diamond League title for the 400-metre hurdler, following her fourth win from her fifth start at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

The in-form hurdler was the only Jamaican winner on a night dominated by eight world-leading performances that included blistering runs from Americans Tori Bowie and Justin Gatlin.

Spencer, who has accumulated 18 points from her five races, won comfortably in 54.09 seconds over United States duo Georganne Moline (54.73) and Cassandra Tate (55.07). Zuzana Hejnova, the 2013 world champion, was seventh in 55.86. It was Hejnova's season debut, after a protracted absence from competition because of injury.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been gradually returning to form after her own challenges with injury and was looking forward to improving on her 11.10-second run in Glasgow last week, where she finished second to Trinidad's Michelle-Lee Ahye in the 100 metres.

BOWIE UNBEATEN

Fraser-Pryce led the stacked field early and ran faster (11.01), but finished farther down the track as new-found star, American Tori Bowie, remained unbeaten this season with a world-leading 10.80 seconds to defeat Veronica Campbell-Brown 10.96.

Murielle Ahoure and Blessing Okagbare, both timed at 10.97, were third and fourth, respectively. Fraser-Pryce's improved performance was only good enough for fifth.

Nickel Ashmeade was the form Jamaican going

into the 200 metres, what with world leader Warren Weir withdrawing from the meet on Thursday.

However, it was Justin Gatlin who stole the
show. The American, who has six of the seven fastest 100-metre times in
the world this season, rocketed to a world-leading 19.68
seconds.

It was a new meet record and the sixth
fastest time in history.

Ashmeade was second in 19.99
seconds, with Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre third in a season best 20.08
seconds.

Tyson Gay, returning after a one-year doping
ban after testing positive for an anabolic steroid, was
fourth.

Andrew Riley ran a season best 13.19 seconds
for fifth in the men's sprint hurdles that was won by Pascal
Martinot-Lagarde, who clocked 12.95 seconds, a new French record and
one-hundredth of a second outside Hansle Parchment's world-leading
time.

SEASON BEST

Kimberley Williams
leapt to a season best 14.59, but it was only good enough for third as
Colombia's Caterine Ibarg├╝en had one of the best jumps of all time, with
a massive leap of 15.31 metres, a new area
record.

Russia's Yekaterina Koneva was second with a
personal best 14.89 metres.

Other world-leading
performances came from Botswana's Nigel Amos, who upset a quality field
that included David Rudisha and Mohammed Aman to win the men's 800
metres in 1:42.45.

In the women's equivalent, American
Ajee Wilson (1:57.67) held off Kenya's Jepkoech Eunice Sum, who ran a
season best 1:57.92.

In the men's 1500m, Silas
Kiplagat surprised Asbel Kiprop with a strong closing run to clock
3:27.64, while Genzebe Dibaba was first in the women's 5000m in
14:28.88.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Valerie Adams won
her 53rd straight shot put competition with a best throw of 20.38 metres
and LaShawn Merritt (44.30) pulled away from Botswana's Isaac Makwala
(44.90) down the stretch to win the men's 400m. American Gil Roberts,
44.62, split them for second.