Kirani James - Prefontaine Classic 2016by Michael Bascombe

EUGENE, OR, May 28, 2016 – Kirani James maintained his unbeaten record of wins this season with a victory at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday.

The Olympic 400 metres champion accelerated over the final 60 metres to win in 44.22 seconds and clear of main rival American LaShawn Merritt (44.39) and Isaac Makwala of Botswana (45.37).

This was the fifth time both James and Merritt clashed at the Prefontaine with the Grenadian topping the American on three occasions. Overall, James holds a 12-7 advantage on Merritt since they began competing against each other in 2011.

James, who won his island’s first Olympic medal at the London Games in 2012, is preparing to defend that title in Brazil this summer but is expected to be strongly challenged by the reigning world champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa.

But James, who also won the world title in 2011, is focusing on consistency in his preparation for the Games in RioFLOW Logo de Janeiro.

“I’m just trying to minimise any externalities that come along with the season and just try to focus on competing, focus on training, and just try to get there in tip-top shape,” he said.

“We’ve put a race plan together that will allow consistency throughout the season. He has maintained that consistency every race and this sets up well and what we can expect this summer in Rio (Olympic Games). So as long as he could apply consistency and keep doing what he’s doing, everything will be ok,” said James’ coach Harvey Glance.

Machel Cedenio of Trinidad & Tobago (45.45), Abdalleleh Haroun of Qatar (45.66), Saudi Arabia’s Youssef Masrahi (46.08), Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas (46.80) and Rusheen McDonald of Jamaica (46.82).

Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas took the women’s version with 50.15 and Omar McLeod of Jamaica continues his dominance in the 110m hurdles this season with 13.06, ahead of Americans David Oliver (13.38) and Jeff Porter (12.48).

Other impressive winners were Americans Kendra Harrison, Justin Gatlin, Tori Bowie, Michael Tinsley and English Gardner, as well as Briton Mo Farah.

Harrison led an American sweep of the women’s 100m hurdles with a stadium record of 12.24. Brianna Rollins (12.53) and Jasmin Stowers (12.55) completed the top three.

Gatlin won the men’s 100m (9.88, 2.6m/s), with Asafa Powell of Jamaica (9.94) and Tyson Gay of the United States (9.98). Both Powell and Gay complained about a faulty microphone at the start.

Bowie won the women’s 200m in a world leading 21.99, beating re-race favourites Dafne Schippers (22.11) and Elaine Thompson (22.16). Tinsley unsettled the field winning the 400m hurdles in 48.74, followed by Kerron Clement (48.87) and Bershawn Jackson (49.04).

Gardner produced the second fastest time of the year with a win in the women’s 100m in 10.81. Tianna Bartoletta (10.94) and Murielle Ahoure (11.01). Double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished behind the pack with a pedestrian 11.18. Simone Facey (11.09), Barbara Pierre (11.11), Blessing Okagbare-Igheoteguon (11.16) and Carmelita Jeter (11.16) finished ahead of Fraser-Pryce.

St Lucian Levern Spencer settled for the silver in the women’s high jump (1.92m), behind Chaunte Lowe of the United States (1.95).

Farah set the pace on Friday night with a victory in the 10,000m in 26:53.71. He brushed off a challenge from William Malel of Kenya (26:54.66) and Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia (26:57.33).

The Prefontaine Classic was the latest meet of the Diamond League series with two more scheduled for the coming days. The next is in Rome, Italy on Wednesday followed by Birmingham, England on Sunday where James is expected to compete.

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