by Michael Bascombe
ROME, Italy, June 2, 2016 – Bralon Taplin finished second behind World Champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa in the Men’s 400 metres at the Golden Gala Diamond League Meet here on Thursday night.
Taplin, running out of Lane 7, closed the lead on Niekerk in the final moments of the race but the South African held on to win in 44.19 with Taplin at 44.43. Isaac Makwala of Botswana held the third spot at 44.85.
It was Taplin’s first Diamond League race since turning pro and he is satisfied with his performance against the reigning world champion. He has now competed against Olympic champion and world leader Kirani James and former Olympic and world champion American LaShawn Merritt.
“Since I have raced against all three of them now it’s more about getting a strategy to win a race,” Taplin told GrenadaSports in the Mixed Zone.
“He did great today. He finished strong,” said coach Alleyne Francique.
Deon Lendore of Trinidad and Tobago was seventh in 45.51 followed by Rusheen McDonald of Jamaica 46.05.
Niekerk admitted that it was challenge in winning but he is hoping to build on tonight’s performance.
“It took me a while to recover after the race,” he said.
“It was a challenge but I am glad I won. It is a good start to build up towards the rest of the season.”
Taplin has two days to recover since he races against compatriot James at the next stop of the Diamond League in Birmingham on Sunday.
In other Caribbean results, Janieve Russell posted a world leading time of 54.96 to win the Women’s 400m Hurdles. Compatriot Kaliese Spencer was sixth in 55.51.
“It is a great feeling to go under the magic barrier of 54 seconds,” said Russell. “My aim is to finish the race injury-free and I did that. Hopefully, I will be that new Jamaican 400m hurdles star, I want to continue that tradition,” she said.
Elaine Thompson gave Jamaica a second gold when she stopped a rampaging American English Gardner to win the Women’s 100m in a season best time of 10.87. Gardner, who finished in 10.92, commanded the race from the start but Thompson squeezed her way into the final metres to take the victory. Barbara Pierre of the United States took the third position in 11.13 and Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago finished sixth in 11.23.
Jamaicans Shanieka Thomas (14.46) and Kimberly Williams (14.38) finished third and fourth respectively in the Women’s Triple Jump.
There were fourth positions for Cleopatra Borel of Trinidad and Tobago in the Women’s Shot Put (18.36); Fedrick Dacres of Jamaica in the Men’s Discus (63.50) and Shane Brathwaite of Barbados in the Men’s 110m Hurdles (13.64).