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Williams-Darling wins 400m title in Mexico

15 May 2006

By Gary Smith

World and Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling defended her 400 metre title at the Gala Banamex Veracruz 2006 held at the Heriberto Jara stadium, in Xalapa, Mexico, Saturday afternoon.

Williams-Darling prevails over Guevara again

The Bahamian, who won the silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, earlier this year clocked a season-best time of 50.28 seconds to defeat home favourite Ana Guevara, who crossed the finish line in 51.08.

"I am happy with my race and my time," Williams-Darling was quoted as saying. "Ana (Guevara) is a great athlete and I am sure we will see her running faster this year."

"We will eventually team-up in the Americas team for the World Cup with two other women like the Jamaicans and Christine (Amertil), we will be able to challenge the 4x400m relay world record in Athens."

The 30-year-old Williams-Darling is expected to run her next race in two weeks, at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon and she said she will be ready to break the 50sec barrier.

"I will be ready to run under 50 seconds at my next meet," the Bahamian queen said.

Kikaya takes men's crown

Congo's Gary Kikaya won the men's division with an impressive run that saw him clocking 44.72 in a race in which pre-meet favourite and 2006 Commonwealth Games champion John Steffenson of Australia and Jamaica's Jermaine Gonzales failed to show.

The Congolese season's best performance saw him beating American Mitch Potter, at 45.06 and Jamaica's Sanjay Ayre who took third in 45.50.

Dennis Darling, the husband and coach of Williams-Darling, finished sixth in 46.12.

Jones and Thomas win short sprint titles

In the short sprint, former Olympic sprint queen Marion Jones of USA opened her 2006 track and field campaign with a victory after she clocked the second fastest time in the world this year to win the women's 100 metre dash.

Jones raced to finish line in 11.06 second to leave compatriot and former world champion Torri Edwards, second in 11.30.

U.S. Virgin Islands' Laverne Jones finished third in 11.48, while crowd favourite Ruth Grajeda could only manage 11.99 for fifth.

Jamaican sprinter Dwight Thomas, who trains with newly crowned world record holder Justin Gatlin at the Sprint Capitol training base in Raleigh, North Carolina, edged American Marquis Davis for the men's title.

Thomas, who finished last season with a time of 10.00, took the victory with a time of 10.21, just ahead of Davis, at 10.22.

Bolt a no show in half-lap

The much anticipated clash between American Lashawn Merritt and Jamaica's Usain Bolt in the men's 200m did not materialise after Bolt failed to face the starter. According to a report from Kingston, the World Junior record holder was denied a visa for the trip.

Bolt's presence, however, did not hinder Merritt from posting a fast time in unwelcome situations for sprinting. The American ran smartly to easily win the race in 20.18, despite a -1.3 head-wind.

Fellow American Rodney Martin took second in 20.35, while Jamaican 2001 World silver medallist Christopher Williams finished third in 20.58.

After finishing third in the women's 100m Virgin Islands' Jones, took the women's half-lap event in 23.04.

Other winners at the meet were World and Olympic champion Dwight Phillips in the men's long jump with a leap of 8.30m, Canada’s Nicole Forrester in the women's High Jump (1.84), Robby Hughes (13.26) won the men's 110m hurdles, while Russ Buller (5.63m) defeated a strong field to win the Pole Vault on the men's side.

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