Grenadian James makes stunning pro debut at Diamond LeagueAugust 6th, 2011 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS
London, Aug 6 (IANS/CMC) Grenadian teenager Kirani James completed a memorable Diamond League debut, streaking to a world-leading time to win the men’s 400 metres but importantly, making a bold statement ahead of the World Championships later this month.
The prodigiously talented James, who only turns 19 next month, clocked 44.61 seconds to beat the experienced Jamaican Jermaine Gonzales into second in a time of 44.85 seconds at the Aviva London Grand Prix, the 12th meet of the Diamond League.
World indoor champion Bahamian Chris Brown finished third in 45.04 seconds.
“I’m feeling really good and this shows that I’m on course for Daegu. I need to go out there and run 400 metres races but there are a lot of great guys out there,” said James, a sophomore at the University of Alabama.
“I competed against them today and you can’t take anyone for granted. I just went out there and tried to improve on my time and that’s what I did.”
Despite his relative inexperience, James entered his first race as a pro athlete with stunning credentials. He is the reigning World Junior champion and is third on the all-time indoor list behind Americans Michael Johnson and Kerron Clement after cruising to 44.80 in Feb.
Running out of lane six at Crystal Palace, James moved easily down the backstretch but it was Gonzales who was the sharpest, covering ground to lead after 200 metres.
With 80 metres to run, James brushed aside Gonzales with effortless strides to cruise to the line unchallenged for an impressive victory.
He was joined by Jamaican Kaliese Spencer who clocked a world-leading 52.79 seconds in winning the women’s 400 metres hurdles in a new meet record.
The 24-year-old Spencer easily beat compatriot and World and Olympic champion Melaine Walker who clocked 53.90 seconds.
Jamaican Yohan Blake, meanwhile, grabbed the men’s 100 metres in a time of 9.95 seconds in the absence of countryman Asafa Powell who pulled out of the meet with injury.
The 21-year-old, who ran 9.80 seconds in May this year, finished ahead of Jamaican Nesta Carter (10.01) while Antiguan Daniel Bailey was fourth (10.14) and Olympic silver medallist, Trinidadian Richard Thompson fifth in 10.15.
In the women’s 200 metres, Jamaican Sherone Simpson had to settle for second in 22.84 seconds behind winner, American Bianca Knight (22.69).