Grenadian James posts world-leading time in 400 metres
DES MOINES, Iowa, (CMC):
Grenada's Olympic champion Kirani James produced a world-leading time to win the men's 400 metres at the Drake Relays here on Friday night, and continued his fine start to the new international season.
The 23-year-old stormed to 44.08 seconds - the second fastest time ever run in the first four months of a year - to edge American nemesis, former World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who was timed at 44.22.
James's fellow countryman Bralon Taplin claimed third in 44.92.
"It shows that I'm on course to do some great things so long as I don't take anything for granted and keep on doing the right things for the rest of this season," James said following the performance.
"I'm happy with the time, I'm happy with the performance, and I'm just happy to be here at Drake. I always have a good experience here, so all is well."
On a chilly day at Drake Stadium, James showed little negative effects from the weather. Running out of lane five, with Merritt in lane four, James held a narrow lead heading into the final 100 metres and managed to hold on despite Merritt nearly pulling level.
The win came against the backdrop of James's impressive 44.36 run at the Bahamas Invitational in Nassau two weeks ago, and sent a strong warning to his rivals, with attention already on the Summer Olympics in Rio.
James, who dominated the London 2012 event but finished third at the Beijing World Championships last year, said he was much more prepared for this year's showpiece.
"Now is a lot different. I understand the event a lot better. I know the athletes more," he said. "It's a lot more technical ... people look out for you to perform, and that's part of it."