Diamond League: Gowda wins bronze; joy for James

  • Agencies, Shanghai
  • Updated: May 17, 2015 21:08 IST

Olympic 400m champion Kirani James stormed to victory at the Shanghai Diamond League on Sunday, but Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was a disappointing fifth in the 100m before her world title defence.

There was joy for India in the meet from Vikas Gowda, who won discus bronze medal in the second leg of the prestigious IAAF Diamond League.

The 31-year-old Gowda hurled the discus to a distance of 63.90m, which he achieved in his fifth and penultimate attempt, to finish third behind 2013 World Championships silver medallist Piotr Malachowski (64.65m) of Poland and Robert Urbanek (64.47m), also of Poland.

National record holder Gowda, the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Asian Games silver medal winner, will pocket $4000 for the third-place finish, besides earning one Diamond League point.

The United States-based Indian has a season's best of 65.75m, which he achieved at La Jolla in California last month, while his national record stands at 66.28m.

He is yet to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, for which the qualifying standard is 66m.

Last year, Gowda had finished overall fourth in the Diamond League Series by collecting two points by virtue of finishing second in the Doha leg and had pocketed $3,000 prize money.

James, Blessing Okagbare scorch track

James powered across the finishing line on 44.66 secs, well ahead of Americans Tony McQuay in second and world champion LaShawn Merritt in third.

It was a dominant performance from James and a psychological boost as he gears up for the World Athletics Championships in Beijing in August, when he will be seeking to reclaim from Merritt the title he won in 2011.

"It is always a great atmosphere and a great field," he said, following his second successive victory at the Shanghai meet. "It was very tough but I am very happy," the Grenadian added.

The women's 100m event featured another athlete finding top form in Shanghai. Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare easily outpaced highly-decorated Jamaican sprinters Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Okagbare produced a season's best 10.98 secs, with Campbell-Brown in fourth and Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce in fifth.

The result is a blow for Fraser-Pryce in her first 100m of the season, only weeks before she defends her 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay titles in the Chinese capital. "The feeling is OK," the 28-year-old said after the race. "I am looking forward to my next race. What comes, comes."

Okagbare, who won the 200m and the long jump at last year's meet in Shanghai, was ecstatic at her victory Sunday. "It is not easy to compete with the best in the world but I won," she said. "Shanghai loves me and the track loves me."

In the field events, Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar won his high jump showdown with Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko with a season's best 2.38m. The pair dominated the event last season.

Bondarenko, the world champion, reached 2.42m last June before Barshim produced 2.43m in Brussels last September to clinch the Diamond League title. The Diamond League meeting in Shanghai is the second in the 14-leg circuit.

Huge ovation for retired Liu Xiang

Defending world champion David Oliver won the men's 110-meter hurdles, but it was recently retired Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang who got the biggest ovation of the night.

Liu became one of China's most celebrated athletes when he won the hurdles gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He retired a month ago at the age of 31 due to recurring injuries, depriving hometown fans of farewell races in Shanghai and at the world championships this summer in Beijing.

Oliver edged Orlando Ortega to win the gold in 13.17 seconds, out-leaning the Cuban hurdler by 0.02 at the tape. World record holder Aries Merritt of the United States was third.

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