Robles wins 110 hurdles in London, Oliver 3rd
Updated: 2011-08-06 10:57
LONDON - Olympic champion Dayron Robles won his 110 meters hurdles showdown with David Oliver at Crystal Palace on Friday, but it was Grenadian teenager Kirani James who stole the limelight with a world-leading time in the 400 in his first race as a professional.
Cuba's Dayron Robles (2nd L) wins the men's 110m hurdles during the London Grand Prix, Diamond League, athletics meeting at Crystal Palace in London August 5, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Robles laid down a marker ahead of the world championships by setting a new stadium record of 13.04 seconds, leaving American rival Oliver trailing in third.
In the last Diamond League meet before the world championships begin August 27 in Daegu, South Korea, 18-year-old James burst into contention by clocking 44.61 to upstage his more experienced rivals.
Yohan Blake took advantage of the withdrawal of injured fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell with victory in the 100 in a time of 9.95 into a headwind, while world record holder David Rudisha won the 800 in 1:42.91, the fastest time ever run on British soil.
Robles and Oliver were separated by three-thousandths of a second when the Cuban won their head-to-head at the Paris Diamond League meet last month. Oliver is still the only man to go under 13 seconds this year but that came back in June and he was a distant third in London.
Robles, the world record holder, held off Jason Richardson of the United States, who beat Oliver for the second time in a row after his Stockholm win last Friday.
"I feel very good because the time is my best this year," Robles said. "I am working to run under 13 seconds in Daegu - I think I can do it."
Oliver didn't seem concerned by his performance, tweeting later: "Finish felt strong, technique felt good, got three weeks to sharpen this start and get back fresh...no worries."
James of Grenada is the current world junior champion and set world age best times at aged 14, 15 and 17. His time at Crystal Palace beat the 44.65 set in April by fellow Grenadian Rondell Bartholomew, who could only manage seventh. Jermaine Gonzales of Jamaica was second, ahead of Chris Brown of the Bahamas.
"I'm feeling really good this shows that I'm on course for Daegu," James said. "I just went out there and tried to improve on my time and that's what I did."
Blake gave Jamaican rivals Powell and Usain Bolt a warning that it may not be a straight head-to-head in Daegu by equaling his season's best 100 time against a 1.6 meters per second headwind. Powell pulled out earlier Friday with a slight groin injury.
"Running like this in the leadup to the world championships, trust me, it's wonderful," Blake said.
Rudisha of Kenya controlled the 800 from the front and though he was pressured by twice world indoor champion Abubaker Kaki all the way to the finish, the taller Rudisha had too much power.
"To beat Kaki is very important as it's a few weeks before the world championships," Rudisha said. "I'm feeling in good shape and hopefully after the worlds I'll think of running something really fast."
The 22-year-old Rudisha, whose father Daniel was an Olympic 4x400 silver medalist for Kenya, set the world record of 1:41.01 in Italy a year ago, and has the fastest time in the world this year.
Rudisha failed to reach the final at the worlds two years ago and will aim for his first major title in Daegu.
In the women's 400 hurdles, Kaliese Spencer sliced half a second off the best time in the world this year, finishing strongly to clock 52.79.
Her time was the ninth fastest time ever and took her well clear of fellow Jamaican Melaine Walker (53.90) in second.
"I came here to get a PB and I did just that. I'm absolutely delighted," Spencer said. "I run great 400s and my coach told me to run it like I run the 400, so I did that. It wasn't great technically but my speed strength between the hurdles carried me home.
"In Daegu hopefully I will do a personal best there as well. I know I can do better than I have before. I think I'll be in great shape."
The night ended with a rousing sprint finish by Britain's Mo Farah in the 3,000. The 28-year-old, who is focusing on the 10,000 at the worlds, was given a standing ovation by a capacity crowd as he produced a superb burst of speed on a 54.7-second last lap.
"The crowd were fantastic out there," Farah said. "Today was just to see where I am, to try a different strategy and go hard at the end there. I wanted to go out with one lap to go.
"In Daegu, I'm definitely going to give 110 percent in the 10k and then see what happens. I'll see how the legs are then go for it in the 5 after."