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Walker, Brown win, Powell finishes third at Prefontaine Classic

11 June 2007

By Gary Smith

Trinidad and Tobago’s Darrel Brown and Jamaica’s Melaine Walker recorded wins on Sunday at the 33rd edition of the Nike Prefontaine Classic, which took place at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Walker shocks Ross-Williams with world-leading time

Opening the track event on the weather affected IAAF Grand Prix meeting, Walker sprung a big surprise in the women’s 400m Hurdles when she timed her run to perfection and stayed relaxed over the final two flights of obstacles to beat Americans Sheena Johnson and Tiffany Ross-Williams, who came into the meet as the second-best runner in the event and overwhelming favourite.

Walker got out fast and stayed relaxed when it mattered most, to stop the clock in a world-leading 54.14 seconds. The Jamaican who is warming up for the National trials in Kingston in two weeks time, used her hurdling technique to attack the barriers and wrapped up the race after the 10th flight.

"It was great. It's a good feeling right now to know I have the fastest time in the world," the former Texas star said.

"I'll just continue to work hard, get my legs down and get my time to around 53."

Johnson, the American 2004 champion and the Olympic fourth place finisher from Athens, chased Walker home with some force in 54.44, while Ross-Williams finished third in 54.95. Shevon Stoddart, the other Jamaican in the event was fifth in 57.09.

Brown takes wind affected dash

Running into a strong -2.1 m/s head-wind, Trinidadian World Junior record holder Brown won the men’s 100m in 10.42secs.

"To me the time was too slow, but I feel okay about the race," said Brown, who was shocked by the resulting time.

"The race was pretty okay, but the time was shocking. I was expecting faster."

The 2003 World silver medallist held off the early challenges posted from American world indoor champion Leonard Scott, who got out fast, but faded to seventh in 10.57, to edge American sprinters Leroy Dixon (10.49) and Mark Jelks (10.49).

Netherlands Antilles’ media-star, Churandy Martina was fourth in 10.50 -- this after false-starting on the first send off, while Marc Burns of Trinidad could only manage a 10.57 fifth place finish.

Commonwealth Games champion Sheri-Ann Brooks finished seventh in the women’s race in 11.40. Torri Edwards of USA won the event in 11.10.

Sinclair, Mutola in another classic at Hayward

As expected, the women’s 800m brought excitement to the large gathering again as the familiar battle between Jamaican Kenia Sinclair and middle-distant legend Maria Mutola of Mozambique had the crowd on their feet.

Once again, like she did in 2006 and indeed in 2005, Sinclair entered the home stretch in front. However, Mutola showed class and much experience as she powered away from the Jamaican to stretch her winning streak at the meeting to 15 straight and the 10th in the 800m.

Mutola, who came home in a roar from the stands before collapsing to the track, clocked 1:58.33 to beat Sinclair, the world indoor and Commonwealth Games silver medal winner who crossed the line, at 1:58.61.

Alice Schmidt was third in 1:58.75, while Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei, the women who was a strong favourite to erase Mutola’s streak took fifth.

In the men’s equivalent, Trinidadian Sherridan Kirk went out a bit too hard in the race and faded badly at the 600m mark.

In the end, Kirk finished eighth in 1:47.87 as American Nick Symmonds sped past Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia to win in 1:44.54.

Nothing to celebrate about here

In the men’s 400m dash Michael Blackwood was the best of the two Caribbean runners in the event, but his 45.61 was only good enough for fifth place as African record holder Gary Kikaya powered away to victory in 44.93.

Grenadian two-time world indoor champion Alleyne Francique, running out of lane one never looked like troubling the top runners from the get go and could only race to 46.17 for seventh place.

Richards is back after illness

Jamaican-born Sanya Richards made a successful start to the season by winning the women’s race in commanding style in 50.74.

She said after the race that she was delighted to finally make her 2007 debut after being forced out of four races this season because of a low-key virus.

“My training had been going pretty well, but the first race is always really tough so I was a little nervous to open up at Pre-fontaine, but I am happy I got the win and I am really looking forward to having a good season,” the World Female Athlete-of-the-Year said.

Shericka Williams of Jamaica got out hard and paid evidently for it in the final stretch. Running her first 300m very strongly, Williams faded into fifth on the home straight in 51.99. Another Jamaican Kaliese Spencer clocked 52.83 for eight-place.

Powell finishes third in half-lap

The men’s 200m dash lived up to its billings as it finished close to the end in the windy and rainy conditions.

Jamaican 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, running from lane number six in a head wind of -2.3 m/s, produced a time of 20.55 for third behind American Xavier Carter, who shocked his fellow countryman Wallace Spearmon to win in 20.23.

Spearmon, who twice ran under 20-seconds this season and came to Oregon as the favourite, took second with a time of 20.25. World and Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner was sixth in 20.78.

In the men’s High Jump competition, former Jamaican representative, Germaine Mason cleared 2.30m for third place.

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