Mon | Sep 24, 2018

James will be hard to beat

Published:Friday | May 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Kirani James (left) and LaShawn Merritt cross the finish line in the same time, 43.97 seconds, at last year's Prefontaine Diamond League in Eugene.

A year ago, Grenada's Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt treated the crowd to an epic 400-metre battle at the Prefontaine Diamond League Classic in Eugene, Oregon.

Both battled to the line in the final 50 metres and at the end were awarded the same time: 43.97 seconds. The photo-finish camera gave James the nod by the slimmest of margins.

Both will renew their rivalry tomorrow, and three other runners who competed in that fantastic race a year ago will be back: Youssef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia, who was third; Chris Brown of The Bahamas; and Tony McQuay of the United States.

Fans will be hoping for a repeat of last year's thriller, but that is unlikely.

James has been in great form this season, while Merritt has been below his best.

The Grenadian has produced the two fastest times in the world this year over the distance, after winning at the Drake Relays in 44.22 seconds and in Arizona in 44.31.




He will be going for his fourth win in a row this season and his second Diamond League success after an effortless win in Shanghai in 44.66, where he easily defeated Merritt, who was third in 45.58 behind McQuay, second in 45.54.

Merritt is yet to finish in front this year and will be hoping to improve on his season best of 44.85 seconds when finishing second to Masrahi at the Jamaica Invitational International meet in Kingston, where the Saudi Arabian won in a season best 44.59. Merritt could be aiming for this race before his home crowd to recapture his form of last season, but he will have to improve a lot on his last run.

While James looks set to continue his winning ways, we could see an exciting contest to see who finishes in the top three as Masrahi, Brown, McQuay, and Merritt are all expected to battle all the way to the line.

- R.G.