PARIS, France (CMC):Caribbean athletes posted world-leading times and season’s best performances at the Areva Diamond League meeting yesterday.
Led by performances from Kirani James, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Damar Forbes, the regional athletes lit Paris with outstanding performances in their respective events.
Bolt was made to work hard for a victory in the half-lap as compatriot Warren Weir stayed with him into the top bend before the world record holder pulled away to win in a world leading and meet record of 19.73. Weir stayed below the 20-second barrier with 19.92 and Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre finished third in 20.07.
Jamaicans Jason Young (20.12, SB) and Nickel Ashmeade (20.21) completed the top-five finishers.
Fraser-Pryce shrugged off the disappointment of Birmingham to edge Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria to win the women’s 100 metres in a season’s best 10.92. She lost to the Nigerian over the 200m about a week ago but took the shorter distance to Okagbare’s 10.93.
Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast (11.01) pushed ahead of Trinidad & Tobago’s national record holder Kelly-Ann Baptiste (11.10).
Forbes was the lone Caribbean winner in the field events when he leaped 8.11m to win the men’s long jump among a talented field including Chris Tomlinson of Great Britain (8.08) and Louis Tsatoumas of Greece (8.02).
American Aries Merritt emerged winner from a blanket finish in the men’s 110m hurdles in a season’s best 13.09. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France (13.12), and David Oliver of the United States (13.13) rounded up the top three. Andrew Riley of Jamaica improved on his 13.35 performance at Jamaica’s National Trials last month, and Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados continues to rediscover his form which won him the 2009 world championship.
Riley was fourth in a personal best of 13.14, same time as Brathwaite who equalled his national mark set in Berlin in 2009. James, the World and Olympic 400-metre champion from Grenada, held off a challenge to win his event in a world-leading time of 43.96.
The 20-year-old Grenadian ran a controlled first 150m before accelerating ahead of American LaShawn Merritt to win and broke the 44-second barrier for the second time in his career.
The victory will give James bragging rights and favourite to retain his title at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Moscow in August. Prior to yesterday’s event, both athletes shared a victory in the Diamond League campaign.
Americans Tony McQuay (44.84) and David Verburg (44.97) and 37-year-old Christopher Brown of The Bahamas (45.24) completed the top-five finishers.
Other Caribbean performances were Kimberly Williams (14.48, SB) and Trecia Smith (13.68) of Jamaica finishing fourth and 10th, respectively, in the women’s triple jump and, Kaliese Spencer (55.22) and Ristananna Tracey (55.33), also of Jamaica, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s 400m hurdles.