Kirani James stuns 400m rivals at London Diamond League

By Tom FordyceBBC Sport at Crystal Palace
Teenager Kirani James stars in 400m in Diamond League

Grenada's 18-year-old 400m sensation Kirani James produced the outstanding performance on day one of the London Diamond League meeting as Britain's World Championships hopefuls delivered a series of encouraging displays.

James blitzed a quality field to clock a remarkable 44.61 seconds - the fastest time in the world this year - in what was his first ever professional race.

Britain's Mo Farah blew away his 3,000m rivals by taking four seconds out of them over the last 200m, after Jenny Meadows set a season's best to storm to 800m victory.

Chris Tomlinson won his battle with compatriot Greg Rutherford to steal second place in the long jump, while Goldie Sayers and Perri-Shakes Drayton took third in javelin and 400m hurdles respectively.

James's extraordinary display - allied to this week's news that former world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner will miss the Worlds in Daegu with injury - will install him as both gold medal contender and new star of his sport.

The men's 100m was supposed to be the blue riband event of the night, but with Asafa Powell a late withdrawal, Tyson Gay out injured for the rest of the year and Usain Bolt refusing to appear in the UK for tax reasons, Yohan Blake's win was overshadowed by James's deeds a few minutes earlier.

It was perhaps unfair - Blake's 9.95 seconds into a headwind of -1.6 m/s was worth the equivalent of 9.85 secs in still conditions - but with 400m runner-up Jermaine Gonzales almost a quarter of a second back on the teenage winner the near sell-out crowd left this famous old stadium with a new name on their lips.

James told BBC Sport: "I'm feeling really good, and this shows I'm on course for Daegu. I just went out there and tried to improve on my time, and that's what I did."

Farah, imperious all season over 10,000m and 5,000m, showed he has the speed and tactical nous to win over the shorter distance with an explosive kick that had the crowd on its feet as he came away to win in 7 mins 40.15 secs.

Mo Farah was one of the British stars, destroying the 3,000m field

With the great Kenenisa Bekele a doubt for the Worlds, Farah now has a wonderful chance of becoming the first British male to win 10,000m gold at a major global championships.

"I was really confident - I wanted to use a different tactic, and it worked," the double European champion told BBC Sport. "I will taper before Daegu, go back to the US to train and then go on to Korea."

Meadows won bronze at the last Worlds in Berlin and took a big scalp in Kenia Sinclair as she out-sprinted the Jamaican down the home straight to win in 1min 58.60secs, with Marilyn Okoro just five hundredths of a second outside the GB qualifying time in fourth.

Meadows said: "It's perfect preparation for me - I'm coming into form just at the right time. That's the first time Sinclair has been beaten this season and I'm really pleased to get the victory."

David Rudisha, the 800m world record holder, is yet to win a major global title but will go to Daegu as hot favourite for world gold after cruising to a typically stylish win over great rival Abubaker Kaki.

After a fast first lap Rudisha turned on the gas over the last 200m and powered away to win in 1:42.91, leaving Kaki flailing in second with 1:43.13. Andrew Osagie booked a likely place in the GB squad for the Worlds with a personal best of 1:45.36 to take fifth, just inside UK Athletics' 'A' qualifying standard.

Tomlinson and Rutherford pushed Olympic champion Irving Saladino into fourth place but could not out-jump Australia's breakthrough man Mitchell Watt.

Tomlinson matched his UK record of 8.30m - albeit with a tailwind of +2.2 m/s - in the fourth round after Rutherford had jumped 8.19m to lead after the first round, only for Watt to sail out to 8.45m and snatch the win.

Cuba's Dayron Robles saw off the American challenge of Jason Richardson and David Oliver with a stadium record of 13.04 secs in the 110m hurdles, while Kaliese Spencer ran the ninth fastest 400m hurdles of all time as Shakes-Drayton ran a season's best in third.

Jamaica's Spencer clocked 52.79 secs to beat her compatriot Melaine Walker into second, with 22-year-old Londoner Shakes-Drayton (54.62 secs) underlining her great potential as she came through late in front of her home crowd.

Jodie Williams, 17, also produced a solid performance on her Diamond League 200m debut, clocking 22.95 into a headwind of -1.1ms to finish seventh behind the USA's Bianca Knight.

"It was an incredible experience," said WIlliams. "In the warm-up area I was like 'Wow.' I'm quite happy, for my first Diamond League I can't complain.

"I was hoping for a PB but there was a headwind and these guys are so fast, but I just came here for the experience."

Sayers produced a big throw of 63.41m in the final round of the javelin to finish third behind Christina Obergfoll and Barbora Spotakova as she continues to enjoy her best season since the last Olympic year in 2008.

The meeting continues on Saturday afternoon.

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