KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sporting Alert – Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the men’s and women’s 100m titles at the inaugural Jamaica National Racers Grand Prix – IAAF Area Permit meet – at the National Stadium in Kingston, on Saturday.
Bolt recovered from a very slow start, where he stumbled out of the blocks, to clock a season’s best time of 9.88 seconds to win the men’s race.
The time is the second fastest in the world this year and the six-time Olympic champion even eased down before the line.
Nickel Ashmeade was second in 9.94, the same time as Yohan Blake, with both producing year bests, while Asafa Powell was fourth in 9.98 seconds.
Commonwealth Games champion Kemar Bailey-Cole was fifth in 10.00 secs, which was also a 2016 best for him.
Fraser-Pryce ran a season’s best of 11.09 to win the women’s 100m title, holding off USA’s world indoor champions Barbara Pierre, who ran 11.11 for second and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly Ann Baptiste (11.15).
Fraser-Pryce, who has been struggling all season with a toe injury, got off to a fast start and then held her form through the finishing line to set a new seasonal best and rebounded from her last place finish at PreClassic last month.
The 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion from Beijing and London, said she is still being bothered by her toe injury, but the pain is not as bad as first.
In a very special put together men’s 300m dash, World Championships 400m champion Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa dominated the rest of his quartermile rivals when clocking a time of 31.03 seconds to capture the event.
The Beijing 2015 world champion came into the home straight with a big lead and held on to his advantage with Americans LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay struggling to chase him down.
“I was extremely nervous,” he admitted, “but I am glad I executed in the race.
“It was definitely a competitive race, so I am just glad I came away with the win.”
Merritt was second in 31.23 secs, with McQuay getting third in 31.64 secs.
The first Jamaican to cross the finishing line was Javere Bell in 32.35.
In the men’s open 400m, Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago won with a time of 44.37, getting home ahead of Bralon Taplin of Grenada (44.76) and Jamaica’s Javon Francis (44.81).
But it was another below par performance from Jamaica’s national record holder Rusheen McDonald, who was only sixth in 46.21.
Shaunae Miller, world silver medallist over the 400m, set a new Bahamas national record of 22.05 to win the women’s 200m, while posting the third quickest time in the event in 2016.
“I am really excited to break the national record again,” Miller said after the race.
Miller came off the corner slightly behind Jenna Prandini, but used her 400m strength to run past the American to take the win.
Prandini ran a season’s best of 22.39 for second place, with Jamaica’s Audra Segree stopping the clock in a new personal best of 22.89 for third.
In the men’s race, promising sprinter Miguel Francis, who trains alongside the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake at the Racers Track Club, impressively pulled away from a very strong field to set a personal best and new Antigua and Barbuda national record of 19.88 seconds (+1.2 m/s) for the victory.
Francis said before the meet that he was confident about running a fast time on Saturday, and he delighted the crowd at the national stadium, running out of lane seven.
Jamaican duo Julian Forte, who led the race for almost three-quarter way, and Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir, were left to battle for second and third, with respective times of 20.18 and 20.32.
In the hurdles events, Johnny Dutch of USA improved his own world-leading time for the men’s 400m hurdles with a 48.10 secs performance in Kingston, which is the third fastest time in his career.
Before Saturday night, Dutch had posted a time of 48.36 to lead the world this season.
Following him home at the Racers Grand Prix were a pair of Jamaicans, Roxroy Cato (48.98) and Annsert Whyte (49.25).
Sharika Nelvis of USA won the women’s 100m hurdles with a seasonal best of 12.61 secs, with Jamaica’s world champion Danielle Williams, who admitted to make lots of technical mistakes in the race, was second in 12.77.
The men’s 110m hurdles was won by American David Oliver in a seasonal best of 13.09.
Earlier in the evening talented 16-year-old Christopher Taylor of Jamaica ran a seasonal best of 45.66 to finish second to Great Britain’s Delano Williams (45.50) in the men 400m “A race.”
Christania Williams and Jason Livermore ran solid times to win the B races of the women’s and men’s 100m with performances of 11.10 and 10.03, respectively.