Ver wins 'birthday gift'
- Powell, Spencer also celebrate victory at Shanghai meet
SHANGHAI, China (CMC):
A resounding victory for Kaliese Spencer overshadowed sprint wins for Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown yesterday at the Inter-national Association of Athletics Association (IAAF) Diamond League meet.
The Jamaican, the defending Diamond League women's 400-metre hurdles champion, clocked an impressive world-leading (WL) time of 54.20 seconds, sending a strong warning to rivals that she could be hard to beat at the World Championships later this year.
American Lashinda Demus, the meet's record holder, finished runner-up in a season best (SB) time of 54.58 secs, with Olympic and world champion Melaine Walker of Jamaica coming third, also in a SB 54.96.
Demus started strongly, establishing a clear lead after the first two hurdles, but by the fourth hurdles, Spencer was back in sight.
By the time the race reached the final line of barriers, Demus' lead was marginal and her legs laboured, as Spencer drew level and then passed her.
Campbell-Brown also signalled her intentions for the remainder of the season, when she celebrated her 29th birthday, with a stunning victory in the women's 100, finishing with a time of 10.92.
Campbell-Brown, the double Olympic 200 champion from Jamaica, upstaged American starlet Carmelita Jeter, whose sluggish start left her at a disadvantage, as she finished three hundredths-of-a-second behind.
"I am very happy," said Campbell-Brown. "This is my birthday gift. Thank God."
Sherone Simpson of Jamaica finished fifth in 11.28.
Powell eased concerns about his form and fitness, following his disappointing run in the 200 at the JN Jamaica International Invitational, last weekend, by winning in 9.95.
The big Jamaican came under a bit of pressure in the closing stages from Michael Rodgers of the United States, but showed his class to claim victory, as the American finished in 10.01, with Mario Forsythe of Jamaica clocking a season best 10.12 in third place.
"My coach told me not to push it too hard," said Powell.
Curacao-born Churandy Martina, who is now running for the Netherlands, finished fourth in 10.19.
The best of the other Caribbean performances came from Jamaican Dwight Thomas. He also finished fourth in the men's 110 hurdles, clocking a season best 13.31.
A victory for the city's favourite son, Liu Xiang, brought the meet to a tumultuous conclusion in front of a crowd of 30,000.
The former Olympic and world champion lived up to all the local expectations in putting an end to American David Oliver's sequence of 18 unbeaten outdoor finals races, with a WL time of 13.07.