André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Diamond League 400m hurdles winner Kaliese Spencer and sprint veteran Aleen Bailey were the big winners among Jamaican competitors at the Rieti IAAF World Challenge meet in Italy yesterday.
Spencer, who has been in exceptional form since her fourth-place finish at the Olympic Games in London, lined up in the flat 400m this time around, but was just as dominant, posting a 50.63 seconds, her fastest time over the distance since 2008 when she ran her personal 50.55.
This was a strong signal from the MVP Track Club star ahead of next season, when she will be hoping to break into the top three at a major championship for the first time, with the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Moscow on the calendar.
The 400m hurdles specialist actually led a Jamaican trio to the finish line with Olympic 4x400m relay bronze medallist Christine Day and 1999 IAAF World Youth Championships bronze medallist Patricia Hall finishing second and third, respectively, with times of 51.97 and 52.48.
Racking up wins
Bailey, has not had the best year of her career, with the death of a close member of her family and missing out on a spot on Jamaica's Olympic team putting her character to the test. But the sprinter, who turns 32 in November, has, however, dug in all season and has been racking up solid wins on the circuit.
Bailey, who has gone 11.04 this year - the fastest she has run in over eight years - won the women's 100m ahead of Ivet Lalova with 11.21, as the Bulgarian posted 11.24. Another Bulgarian, Tezzhan Naimova, was third in 11.26.
Jamaica's 60m national record holder and Commonwealth Games champion, Lerone Clarke, has had a quiet few weeks and the diminutive sprinter was not at his best in the men's 100m, managing only a fourth-place finish with a 10.15 effort.
Clarke finished behind French star Christophe Lemaitre, 10.04, former World Champion Kim Collins, 10.09, and Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, 10.14.
Jamaica-based Trinidadian Emmanuel Callender was fifth in 10.23.
In the men's 400m, young Olympian Rusheen McDonald crossed the line in third place, stopping the clock at 45.46 behind American Calvin Smith, 45.12, and Rabah Yousif, 45.20.
McDonald, failed to progress from the heats at the Olympic Games in London a few weeks ago, finishing fourth with a 46.67-run before complaining about a back problem.