Grenada's Kirani James (2L) crosses the finish line in front of USA's LaShawn Merritt (L), USA's David Verburg and Bahamas' Christopher Brown (R) during the men's 400m at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on July 6, 2013. (Photo credit BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Grenada’s Kirani James (2L) crosses the finish line in front of USA’s LaShawn Merritt (L), USA’s David Verburg and Bahamas’ Christopher Brown (R) during the men’s 400m at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on July 6, 2013. (Photo credit BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

by Michael Bascombe

Courtesy “LIME-Value Every Moment”

PARIS, France, July 6, 2013 – Caribbean athletes posted world leading times and season’s best performances at the Areva Diamond League Meeting on Saturday.

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.

James, the World and Olympic 400 metres 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 first150m before accelerating ahead of American LaShawn Merritt to win and broke the 44-second barrier for the second time in his career.

“Today, in comparison to previous races, I had a bit better 200m. I couldn’t let LaShawn go in the early stages of the race otherwise it would have been too much to beat him,” said James.

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 Saturday’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.

James won the Olympic title in London in 43.94, becoming the first person to run sub-44 since Merritt broke the mark in 2007 with his 43.96 in Osaka, Japan, and behind another American Jeremy Wariner’s 43.45.

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.

“I lost one 100 metres and a lot of people are making a big deal out of it, and it doesn’t really bother me,” the Jamaican said in reference to his defeat by Justin Gatlin in Rome last month.

“I am a championship person; I’m not worried, as long as I’m in great shape.”

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).

“Today it was not the best race technically but I still managed to win,” said Fraser-Pryce.

“I did not feel Blessing coming; I just ran my own race.”

Forbes was 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.

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.

SELECTED RESULTS

Men’s 200m
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 19.73
2. Warren Weir (Jamaica) 19.92
3. Christophe Lemaitre (France) 20.07
4. Jason Young (Jamaica) 20.12
5. Nickel Ashmeade (Jamaica) 20.21
Men’s 400m
1. Kirani James (Grenada) 43.96
2. LaShawn Merritt (U.S.) 44.09
3. Tony McQuay (U.S.) 44.84
6. Chris Brown (Bahamas) 45.24
Men’s 110m Hurdles
1. Aries Merritt (U.S.) 13.09
2. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (France) 13.12
3. David Oliver (U.S.) 13.13
4. Andrew Riley (Jamaica) 13.14
5. Ryan Brathwaite (Barbados) 13.14

Men’s Long Jump
1. Damar Forbes (Jamaica) 8.11
2. Christopher Tomlinson (Britain) 8.08
3. Louis Tsatoumas (Greece) 8.02

Women’s 100m
1. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) 10.92
2. Blessing Okagbare (Nigeria) 10.93
3. Murielle Ahoure (Cote D’Ivoire) 11.01
4. Kelly-Ann Baptiste (Trinidad and Tobago) 11.10

Women’s 400m Hurdles
1. Zuzana Hejnova (Czech Republic) 53.23
2. Perri Shakes-Drayton (Britain) 53.96
3. Georganne Moline (U.S.) 54.19
5. Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica) 55.22
6. Ristananna Tracey (Jamaica) 55.33

Women’s Triple Jump
1. Caterine Ibargueen (Colombia) 14.69
2. Hanna Knyazyeva (Israel) 14.58
3. Olha Saladuha (Ukraine) 14.55
4. Kimberly Williams (Jamaica) 14.48

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