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Campbell back, Simpson beaten at Jamaica International Invitational

7 May 2007

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By Gary Smith

Olympic 200-metres champion Veronica Campbell showed signs of her best after she provided a bullet finish to snatch the women's 100-metres dash away from American Marshevet Hooker on a night when spectators in the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, were blessed with several world-class performances and a shocking defeat to their own Sherone Simpson during the third annual Jamaica International Invitational.

Campbell impressive in dash come-back

Despite a poor start, the former World Junior sprint double champion and silver medallist in the dash at the Worlds in 2005, dug deep into her reserves to clock 11.07 to just catch Hooker on the line with a breath taking finish. The American placed second, only a breath behind her in 11.08.

American Rachelle Smith left everyone in the blocks, but was caught midway in the race by Campbell and Hooker and was relegated to third in 11.19. Defending champion Debbie Ferguson found the early going too hot and finished 4th in 11.25.

Brown just as impressive in Powell’s absence

In the absence of Asafa Powell, who pulled out the meet with a knee tendonitis injury, his training partner Darrel Brown from Trinidad and Tobago won the race over 2005 World Championships silver medal winner and club mates Michael Frater and a fast finishing Lerone Clarke.

Brown, the 2003 world silver medallist from Paris and world junior record holder, clocked 10.02 seconds, easing up in the last 10-metres to beat Frater (10.13 ). Clarke, a former Lincoln University sprinter and Nester Carter, who trains with Brown, Powell and Frater at their Kingston-base camp tied for third. Both runners posted identical times of 10.15.

Two super runs

The night however, belonged to Americans Tyson Gay and Lashaun Merritt, who showed class to retain their respective titles.

Gay, the fourth fastest 200m runner of all time, dominated from start to finish to defend his half-lap time with a world-leading effortless 19.97 to leave the homeboys battling hard for the minor places.

Following Gay home were Chris Williams of Jamaica, at a distant 20.67 and Trinidadian Aaron Armstrong, posted 20.90 for third.

Unlike Gay, Merritt had to come from behind to retain his title, but that he did impressively, winning the race in a seasonal best of 44.95. Coming into the final stretch some 6 to 8 metres behind home favourite Usain Bolt, who ran a blistering first 300m, Merritt switched into another gear to blow by the Jamaican and wrapped up the race with more than 20m to go.

Bolt was also passed in the closing metres by another American, Andrew Rock, who clocked 45.21 to better Bolt's 45.28. Former Commonwealth Games champion Michael Blackwood finished fourth in 45.38.

In the women's race Novelene Williams went out too hard and paid for it at the end. The Jamaican got out strong, but failed to keep the momentum and was beaten by American Dee Dee Trotter, who won in 50.57 ahead of Williams' 50.87.

The stadium hushes...

In the biggest shocker at the meet, Smith, who finished third in the 100m to Campbell, returned at 10 pm (local time) under the lights to stun Sherone Simpson, the defending champion and overwhelming favourite in the women's 200m.

As she did in the short dash, the American got off to blistering start and held off a strong-finishing Simpson in front of her own supporters to win her second 200m dash of the season in a world-leading time of 22.65 (wind: -0.8m/s).

Despite, a strong finish in the straightaway, Simpson, the world's fastest woman in the both the 100 and 200 last year was unable to make up for her lazy start and had to be content with a 22.76 clocking. Aileen Bailey finished third in 23.11.

Melanie Walker timed her run well to win the women's 400m hurdles in 55.21. Walker, a former World Junior silver medallist in the event came home ahead of fellow countrywoman Shevon Stoddard, who ran 55.53 for second, and American Shauna Smith third (55.94).

The Americans led by Derrick Williams took 1-2-3 in the men's event in a closely contested race to the line in the final 30-metres. Williams posted 48.65 after nipping Trinidadian-born American Kerron Clement (48.72) on the line. Michael Tinsley completed the sweep with a 48.96 third place finish.

Olympic silver medallist Danny McFarlane, not feeling at full strength opted not to race as the Jamaicans struggled to match-up to the powerful Americans. The closest of them was youngster Markino Buckley with a 5th place 49.79 finish.

Entertaining short sprint Hurdles

Brigette Foster-Hylton, a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Australian last March and 2003 world champion Perdita Felicien of Canada, featured in an exciting women's 100m Hurdles race, which saw the race leader being switched on three occasions before the finish line came.

In the end, Foster-Hylton brought the crowd to their feet with a sizzling finish on her way to a winning time of 12.71 - catching the Canadian who clocked 12.75 on the line. Jamaicans, Lacena Golding-Clarke and Vonette Dixon were third and fourth in 12.90 and 12.97, respectively.

"Today the hurdling was a little bit messy," Foster-Hylton said after the race. "I am not pleased with the start, but it's the first one ... I am fit and strong, but just need to clean up some things and then I am good to go," she added.

United States' Aries Merritt won the men's 110m Hurdles in 13.30. He finished ahead of fellow countryman Roland Bramlett (13.38).

Sinclair bests stadium record with solo run

World Indoor and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kenia Sinclair easily defended her 800m title when she dismissed a strong field on her way to running her first sub-2m time in Jamaica.

After being led around the track for the opening lap by hurdler Michelle Burgher, Sinclair took over as she ran unchallenged to clock 1:59.19.

"When I come to Jamaica I just want to win," Sinclair said, adding that "it would be bad to get beaten at home."

"So when I step on the track I just go out with a winning attitude. I wanted to run 1:58, I positioned myself to, but my last 200m was not that strong. I am happy with the time I ran, because this is my best opening up so far, so I am happy," she added.

Guyana's Marion Burnett also had a good run and was rewarded with a second place taking in 2:01.53. Canadian Rebecca Johnstone and Jamaican Korine Hinds were third and fourth with respective times of 2:03.13 and 2:03.62.

Sheridan Kirk Trinidad and Tobago won the men's equivalent in 1:46.85. Moise Joseph of Haiti finished almost two seconds behind him.

Other results on the card

The JAAA Development men's 100-metre dash was won by the defending champion Carl Barrett (JAM) in 10.25 over former CARIFTA Games sprint double champion Daniel Bailey of Antigua, at 10.28 and Andrew Hinds 10.31.

High school junior runner Annsert Whyte took the JAAA development men's 400-metre in 47.21. He held off strong finishes from former world junior 4x400 relay gold medallist Sekou Clarke (47.28) and Curtis Riddle (47.71).

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