STOCKHOLM, Sweden, (CMC):
World 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt has described the former champion Kirani James as a great competitor and expects him to be back for the title.
Merritt, who regained the world title in Moscow last week, is anticipating a competitive match-up when next they clash over the one-lap event.
"He's a great guy, a great competitor and I know he will come back running strong," said Merritt.
The American champion was speaking after winning the 400m in an unchallenged 44.69 seconds at the Diamond League Meeting in Stockholm on Thursday, and a week after he regained the world title he lost to James in Daegu in 2011.
In Moscow - Merritt blew away the field, including James to win in a world leading 43.75.
James reportedly wasn't feeling well on the day of the final but decided to compete.
"He had an upset stomach ... but he made no excuses and went out and tried," GrenadaSports quoted an official as saying.
The Olympic champion will next Thursday come up against the new world champion in the final race of the Diamond League Meeting in Zurich, Switzerland.
It's a competitive field, which includes Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic and Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic.
"Come Diamond League, people will line up again and we will go at it again. Nobody has won yet, so we will go at it and it will be good," said Merritt.
James leads the standings with 14 points, two ahead of Merritt.
The points will be doubled and the athlete with the highest number of points will be declared the Diamond Race winner.