Athletes Shine at Meets in The Caribbean

LaShawn Merritt, Kirani James, Tory Bowie, and Shaunae Miller ran impressive early season times last weekend at the Chris Brown Invitational in the Bahamas. Farther south, at the MVP Track Club Classic in Jamaica, Yohan Blake showed that he has shaken the fear of injury his coach Glen Mills said he developed as a result of major hamstring injuries in 2013 and 2014 by racing quite confidently and looking in great form.

With a focus on taking down the 400m world record this year, Merritt clocked a 19.78 personal best over 200m and left some fans to speculate whether he will double in Rio. Merritt, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 World champion, was beaten in the 400m at the 2015 Beijing World Champion by Wade van Niekerk of South Africa in a mouthwatering final in which the top four men went under 44 seconds.

Meanwhile Grenada’s 2011 World Champion and 2012 Olympic champion James, Merritt’s archrival who was third in Beijing, registered a convincing 44.36secs at the same meet, leaving Tony McQuay at 45.34.

Merritt’s compatriot Tory Bowie, the Beijing 100m bronze medalist, stepped to a 22.26 world lead in the 200m to defeat her countrywoman Natasha Hastings (22.57). And hometown girl Miller, the 2015 WC 400m silver medalist, gave her raucous fans much to cheer about when she ran 49.69 to win the quarter mile over USA’s Quanera Hayes (49.91).

In the men’s 100m, Justin Gatlin of the USA registered a wind-aided 9.90 (2.3m/s) to win over Qatar’s Femi Ogundoe in 9.94.

Blake, who tore a muscle off the bone, was running his first 100m race for the season and said he was fit and ready for Rio. The world’s second-fastest man all time over 100m at 9.69 and 200m at 19.26, ran a legal world leading 9.95, defeating compatriot Rasheed Dwyer (Commonwealth 200m champion) second in 10.10. Zharnel Hughes of Anguilla, who represents Great Britain, was credited with the same time for third. He later anchored Racer’s Track Club’s sprint relay in full throttle to cross the line at 38.45 secs to defeat Kingston College 39.52, Calabar 39.60 and JC 39.77.

The double 2012 Olympic silver medalist said he no longer wanted to be called The Beast. It is a nickname he took on when Usain Bolt referred to him as such but is one that his friends said holding him back.    See Bahamas Results