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Spencer shines like a diamond at Shanghai Diamon League meeting

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 5:00 AMMichael Facey
Spencer
From left: Julian Forte of Jamaica, Alonso Edward of Panama and Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica compete in the men’s 200m race during the IAAF Diamond League Track and Field meet in Shanghai, China, yesterday. Edward won in 20.33, while Forte placed second in 20.36 and Ashmeade third 20.44.
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SHANGHAI, China:

IT WAS mainly a night of woe for Jamaica's athletes at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Shanghai Diamond League meeting yesterday.

There was only one winner for Jamaica, with Kaliese Spencer storming to 400-metre hurdles victory.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion began her season with a world-leading 54.71 seconds, to ward off competition from America's Tiffany Williams, who came second in 55.27.

Despite the woman from the US going off like a train, the experienced Jamaican kept her nerve and reeled in her opponent on the home straight, with Spencer edging away over the final two hurdles to earn the maximum four Diamond League points.

"I am very happy with my first place. I really believe that I can win in Beijing," said Spencer, pointing to the upcoming World Championships in the Chinese city in August.

"Now I have to try harder, stay focused and injury free."

The women's 100m was won by highly regarded Nigerian, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor.

The African put Jamaican sprint queens Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - who came in fourth and fifth, respectively - firmly in their places.

season best of 10.98

The highly rated Okagbare-Ighoteguonor stormed home in a season best of 10.98 seconds. Second place went to American Tori Bowie in 11.07, and Trinidadian Michelle-Lee Ahye came third in 11.13.

Both Jamaican icons are clearly feeling their way into the new campaign and have time to get into tip-top shape for Beijing's global showcase.

After a decent start Campbell-Brown, 33, was not able to live with the speed and power of Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, finishing in a time of 11.22.

Olympic 100m champion, Fraser-Pryce, ended with 11.25 seconds to her name.

By her standards, she looked sluggish out of the blocks, having the third slowest reaction time.

"It is a good start. I didn't have any time in my head and no expectations," said Fraser-Pryce. "The feeling was OK. I am looking forward to my next 100 metres, what comes, comes."

Jamaica's Schillonie Calvert came in eighth place, recording a time of 11.53.

men's 200m

Much like the country's 100m women earlier in the evening, Jamaica's 200m men failed to live up to their billing.

Julian Forte, 21, headed the Jamaican trio, but could only manage second place in 20.36 seconds behind the 2009 world silver medallist, Alonso Edward, who ran a season's best time of 20.33 to win.

Nickel Ashmeade was third in 20.44 after a powerful start out of the blocks, but he could not maintain his form. Fellow Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer finished fourth in 20.56.

Ashmeade said: "It's early in the season and I am still in training. The race is OK for me."

Andrew Riley, the 2014 Commonwealth 110m hurdles champion, could only manage eighth place in his pet event.

Riley, 26, got a clean enough start, but struggled to keep up with the quality field and lost rhythm as he hit the last three hurdles to eventually record 13.71.

One of the closest contests of the night saw a photo finish, with American David Oliver winning in 13.17 seconds to beat the Cuban, Orlando Ortega, by 200th of a second. Olympic champion and world record holder, Aries Merritt, clocked 13.25 for third.

Jamaica's 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Jason Morgan, got the night under way in underwhelming fashion in the discus.

The three-time national champion could only manage fifth with a throw of 62.26 metres.

While it is not quite back to the drawing board for young long jumper, Damar Forbes, he will need to up his game as the season progresses.

The three-time national champion was unable to produce the goods and finished a disappointing ninth in the long jump.

Throughout the competition Forbes struggled to register a decent jump. The 24-year-old looked uncomfortable and lacked rhythm all evening, finishing with a best leap of 7.52m. That wasn't good enough to make the top eight, which would have enabled him to register a further three jumps.

With two early jumps chalked off, Forbes was always going to be under pressure.

The competition was won by Russian Aleksandr Menkov, who pipped Jeff Henderson with a leap of 8.27m on his fifth jump to beat the American by 0.01m.

The IAAF Diamond League roadshow now moves on to the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, United States on May 29.