DES MOINES, IA (Sporting Alert) — Grenadian Kirani James broke Michael Johnson’s meeting record on his way to winning the men’s 400-meter Beijing WC preview race at Drake Relays on Friday night.
James, who won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, posted a time of 44.22 seconds to take the event at Drake Stadium and erased Johnson’s previous mark of 44.41, set in 1996.
The performance by the 22-year-old was also a world-leading time, which bettered his own time of 44.31, set earlier this month.
“I’m very happy with my time,” James said after the win in the cold and windy condition. This shows that I am in good shape.
“Good things can happen this season, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s still early.”
He flashed across the finish line in miserable conditions for sprinters in front of Yousef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia, who ran 44.70, with Bahamas veteran Chris Brown taking third in 44.76.
James, who faded to a disappointing seventh in the 400m final at the last IAAF World Championships in 2013, will be hoping to improve on that performance come this summer in Beijing, China.
Reigning world champion LawShann Merritt of USA could only manage fifth-place after running home in 45.27.
“I didn’t do so well as far as place-wise, but I still feel good,” Merritt told reporters.
“Today wasn’t really about the time. I just needed to work on some things.”
Merritt’s fellow American countryman Tony McQuay was fourth in 45.15, while Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic finished seventh, in 45.69.
In the men’s 400m Hurdles Beijing preview, American Bershawn Jackson came home first in 48.87 seconds to beat fellow American Michael Tinsley (49.39) and Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson (49.47).
Aleec Harris ran a world-leading 13.16 secs (-0.6) to win the men’s 110m Hurdles, beating David Oliver (13.19) and Jamaica’s Andrew Riley (13.32). World record holder Aries Merritt was fourth in 13.37, with fifth going to Hansle Parchment of Jamaica in 13.40.
”It means a lot,” said Harris. “That’s where the pressure was really, knowing who was in the field.
“Those are the guys I’m going to see at (the U.S. championships),” he added.
In other Beijing world championship preview events, Katerina Stefanidi cleared a world-leading mark of 4.71m (15 feet, 5 and 1/2 inches) to win the women’s Pole Vault, while Derek Drouin went over 2.32m (7 feet, 7 and 1/4 inches) to take the men’s High Jump competition.
The 2015 Drake Relays continues on Saturday with another healthy schedule.
Meanwhile at the 121st Penn Relay Festival at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, PA, on Friday, Texas A&M made it seventh in a row in the Championship of America College women’s 4x100m relay after they posted a time of 43.76 seconds.
“This is my first time running a relay for Texas A&M. It’s a great experience just to come out here and to know this was our 7th time to get out here and run against all these people,” said anchor leg runner Aaliyah Brown. “We came out here and dominated. It was a great feeling.
“I came out here in high school but it’s nothing compared to getting out in this environment and run on a collegiate team that’s well known.”
Texas, who recorded that fastest time in the heats, picked up second in 44.36, with Oklahoma (45.49), G.C. Foster (45.54), South Carolina (45.74), Houston (45.83), Hampton (46.79) and Boston University (46.93) following home in the minor places.
UTech of Jamaica, who was one of the favourite to win the event, did not start in the final.