Sat | May 27, 2017

World Championships at centre of James' plans

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 6:00 AMAudley Boyd
Kirani James

Ahead of the 400-metre battle against some of his biggest rivals, Kirani James was asked if a sub-44 clocking was possible.

The Grenadian answered with aplomb on Saturday, leaving his opponents for dead while slashing his previous world best 44.22 in a 43.95 victory at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting.

He won by almost a full half-second, with LaShawn Merritt battling Christopher Brown for a distant second, and left the full-house 13,228 crowd in awe at Hayward Field, University of Oregon.

James is not going anywhere soon. Also, it's early season, so by the time it comes around to the World Championships in August, it's a good bet 43.74 will still not be his personal best.

The six-foot three 22-year-old takes nothing for granted in his preparation to keep rivals in his shadows.

"I know that they're hungry and they want to have great performances, so you can't take the field for granted in any race or any point during the season," he reasoned. "So you always have to be ready, because I know they're going to be ready."

Part of staying ahead of the pack in the longest sprint is optimising the chances, which for him comes from learning the race - a value that is generally acquired well beyond his years.

"... There are 400 guys that have had success while they're old," he observed. "I think, as you get older, you understand the race a bit more. If you look at Michael (Johnson), he broke the world record in his 30s, so this shows that he didn't really fully understand the race until he was in his late 20s going into 30.

"I think there's a lot of improvement for young 400-metre guys, but we just have to do the right things and make sure we stay healthy for the future," James advised, before defining further what he meant by understanding the race.

"I mean, just understand the race on a whole, just understand how fast you're going to go out and try to maintain a pace that you're comfortable with and just try to make the 100s as equal as you can."

world championships

He won the 2011 Worlds and Olympic gold in London the following year and has set his sights on recapturing the World Championship title won by Merritt at Russia's 2013 Worlds.

"The World Championships is always at the centre of my plans. So the main focus is to have a season that could lead up to success at the World Championships," James said.

"I feel good, I'm healthy, I haven't had any complications of any sort, so it should be a good competition and I'm expecting great competition from all the guys."

Results: 1. Kirani James (GRN) 43.95, 2. LaShawn Merritt (USA) 44.51, 3. Christopher Brown (BAH) 44.54, 4. Youssef Ahmed Masrahi (KSA) 44.75, 5. Abdalleleh Haroun (QAT) 44.80, 6. Tony McQuay (USA) 44.81, 7. Isaac Makwala (BOT) 45.33, 8. and Pavel Maslek (CZE) 45.66.