National record run by Gonzales
Jermaine Gonzales and fast-rising sprinter Yohan Blake were the pick of the Jamaican competitors on show at the Monaco Diamond League meeting yesterday.
Gonzales sped to victory in 44.40 seconds in the 400 metres, good enough for a new national record, erasing the 13-year mark of 44.49 set by Roxbert Martin on June 21, 1997, at the National Stadium.
Blake became the second-fastest Jamaican, behind Usain Bolt, over 200m with a blistering 19.78 seconds run to finish behind United States sprinter Tyson Gay, who won in 19.72.
Kaliese Spencer was also successful in the one-lap hurdles event, while sprint queen Veronica Campbell-Brown could not repeat her recent victory over American speedster Carmelita Jeter.
But it was Gonzales' fourth consecutive personal best that would have meant most to Jamaicans across the world, as the lanky Racers Track Club athlete continues to enjoy a rich return of form and health. It was also the fastest time over the distance this year by any athlete, as Gonzales got the better of fellow Jamaican Ricardo Chambers with a personal best 44.54 and Christopher Brown (45.05) of the Bahamas.
Gonzales beat the previous season best of 44.49 set by American Jeremy Wariner in Paris, where the Jamaican had to be content with second place.
Gay, who headlined the sprints in Monaco in the absence of world record-holder Bolt, got off to a strong start and held off Blake's surge in the closing metres to set a new meet record. Another American, Wallace Spearmon, was third in 19.93.
"The problems I had earlier this season are now behind me," said Gay, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury then bounced back with a win over Asafa Powell in the 100 at Gateshead this month.
"The new track in Monaco is super fast, this result is a combination of the track and my speed," Gay said. "I'm very tired now."
Jeter improved her personal best this season to win in 10.82 seconds, ahead of Veronica Campbell-Brown, who finished second in 10.98.
Campbell-Brown was returning to competition for the first time since the Eugene, Oregon, meet on July 3, where she set the fastest time this year in 10.78 ahead of third-placed Jeter.
"I'm very satisfied with the way the race went," said Jeter, who also won in Lausanne and Gateshead. "When I race the way I did tonight and execute my technique as I should, no one can beat me."
Jamaican Spencer won the women's race in 53.63 ahead of Natalya Antyukh of Russia and American Sheena Tosta.
World silver medallist Lashinda Demus of the United States, who was looking for her fourth Diamond League victory, took an excellent start and looked set for an easy win before she stuttered on the last hurdle and ended fourth in 54.54.
World record attempt
David Oliver won the 110-metre hurdles in a failed attempt at the world record.
Oliver, on a newly refurbished track and with a slight tail wind, topped the meet record in 13.01.
The Olympic bronze medallist won ahead of fellow American Ryan Wilson, who finished in 13.13. Jamaican Dwight Thomas was third in 13.29.
American men swept the 400 hurdles, with Bershawn Jackson winning in 47.78 seconds, despite a late charge from Angelo Taylor, who finished second, just 0.01 behind. Justin Garmin was third in 48.65. Jamaica's Isa Phillips was eighth in 49.96.
The Diamond League series takes a two-week break during the European and African championships.