400m king hits form ahead of Rio
44.08 Kirani James’ time was the fastest so far in 2016
Kirani James let the rest of the world know that he’s still the man to beat in the 400 metres. The defending Olympic champion broke the Drake Relays record with a season-leading time of 44.08 seconds. Grenadian James beat American LaShawn Merritt by 0.14 seconds and shaved over a quarter of a second off the time he posted at a race in the Bahamas two weeks ago.
The performance only solidified James’ status as the early favourite in the 400m for the Olympic Games in Rio this August.
His time nearly matched the 43.94 he ran to win in London - and James still has three months to prepare.
“It just shows I’m in great shape. But it also shows how competitive the field is, that a time like that was what it was going to take to win the majority of the races going forward this year,” said James.
The time James posted was even more remarkable given the conditions, with temperatures hovering just below 50C.
The conditions got to Merritt, the 2008 Beijing Olympics champion. He finished 2015 ranked second in the world and is hoping to be ready to push James by the Rio Games.
“I wanted to win the race. But I didn’t want to kill myself,” said Merritt. “My toes felt frozen. But I finished up healthy.”
MAN TO BEAT: Kirani James won the 400m at the London Olympics