Kirani James, Luguelin Santos & Kevin Borlee compete in the Men's 400 metres @GETTY IMAGES

Kirani James, Luguelin Santos & Kevin Borlee compete in the Men’s 400 metres @GETTY IMAGES

by Michael Bascombe/Special for LIME Grenada

BEIJING, China, August 24, 2015 – Olympic champion Kirani James is a race away from regaining the 400 metres title at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.

James eased his way from the semi-final in 44.16 seconds and an automatic spot for the final scheduled for Wednesday night.

“I just tried to control the race and congrats to Santos (Luguelin) for running a nice little record,” James said. I am just happy to get through to the final, get some rest, make sure my body is right and just try to make it a very competitive race, try to represent my country very well and just try to focus on that.”

He said that the race, especially the home straight, was harder than it looked. “I just made sure I have a good position in the final. The final will be tough with all these young guys.”

Luguelin Santos followed James as the only two qualifiers from the first semi-final and in the process a Dominican Republic record of 44.26.

“Coming into the home straight, I got relieved when I saw Kirani next to me. I knew I was safe in the final,” said Santos. “The track is really fast here, the national record is a good sign before the final and it is a gift for all my friends supporting me in Dominican Republic. I am sure that the final will be even faster.”

The world leader and African record holder Isaac Makwala of Botswana advanced with the fastest time of 44.11.

“I really want to win this 400m gold medal. It has been a long time since Africans won the 400m. I do not only want to win it just for Botswana, but also for Africa.”

James will have to battle with the reigning world champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States (44.34) and South African Wayde Van Niekerk (44.31), the only man to beat James this season. The other finalists include Yousef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia (44.40), who posted 43.93 in the preliminaries, Machel Cedenio of Trinidad & Tobago (44.64) and Great Britain’s Rabah Yousif (44.54).

Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon (44.70) and Renny Quow of Trinidad & Tobago (44.98); Javon Francis (44.77), Rusheen McDonald (44.86) and Peter Matthews (45.42) of Jamaica; and the Bahamas trio of Steven Gardiner (44.98), Chris Brown (45.07) and Michael Mathieu (45.43) failed to advance.

The final begins at 9:25 p.m. (9:25 a.m. ET).

Also on Monday, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her third world championship gold medal in winning the women’s 100m in 10.76 seconds. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands (10.81) took the silver and American Tori Bowie (10.86) put some distance between Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica (10.91) for the bronze.

Michelle-Lee Ahye (10.98) and Kelly-Ann Baptiste (11.01) of Trinidad & Tobago took the fifth and sixth positions respectively. Natasha Morrison of Jamaica (11.02) and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (11.02) held the back of the race.

And this championship continues to be a disappointing outing for Trinidad & Tobago as Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad & Tobago failed to advance in the Men’s Javelin.

He was able to get only two legal throws of 75.16 metres with his best effort of 76.83.

Walcott entered the championships as one of the pre-event favourites with a personal and season best of 90.16m but has been battling an ankle injury.

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