James smokes field to claim gold in Commonwealth 400m


London Olympic champion Kirani James handed out a comprehensive lesson in one-lap running when he cruised to victory in the 400 meters in a star-studded athletics session at the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Alabama-based Grenadan, who won world gold in 2011 at 18 and Olympic gold in London a year later but flopped in the 2013 Moscow worlds, clocked an event record of 44.24 seconds with his fluid, easy-on-the-eye style.

“I am happy for my country and everyone affiliated to us,” said James of Grenada’s first-ever Commonwealth gold.

“I knew I had to stay composed and relaxed. The crowd are fantastic, they cancel out the weather.”

James’ exploit was just one of the highlights of top-quality entertainment, notably featuring a second Kenyan clean sweep in as many days and Valerie Adams stretching her unbeaten record in the shot put to 56 tournaments.

Canada also consolidated its place among the medal leaders with two more golds from Brianne Thiesen-Eaton and Derek Drouin in the heptathlon and men’s high jump, respectively, following a double haul from Damian Warner (decathlon) and Jim Steacy (hammer) on Tuesday.

And Olympic 800 champion David Rudisha was also on show, qualifying for Thursday’s final in a cool gun-to-tape semifinal victory.

“I ran from the front and controled the race,” said the Kenyan who set the world record when winning in London 2012.

“I am getting better every time, my body is responding well so I am happy about that. There will be tough guys (in the final). I will treat it like a tactical championship race.”

James’ victory was never in doubt from the sixth lane, South African Wayde van Niekerk confirming his promise with a blistering opening half that helped him to silver in 44.68.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon claimed the bronze (44.78).

In the field, New Zealand’s Adams once again showcased her unbeatable talent, adding a third Commonwealth crown to two Olympic and four world gold medals, easily beating the field with her second effort of 19.88 meters.

“I’m happy with the medal but frustrated with the distance,” said Adams. “I come from a very small country and the track and field is very dominated by eastern European countries, so for me to keep winning I’ll have to work hard.

“The Commonwealth Games is pretty important to New Zealand and to me especially, and I’m happy the gold was reached. I’m pretty stoked.”

After their teammates swept the 10,000 on Tuesday, the Kenyan 3,000-meter steeplechasers were not to be outdone, Purity Cherotich Kirui surging home in 9 minutes, 30.96 seconds to edge world and defending Commonwealth champion Milcah Chemos Cheywa, with Joan Kipkemoi taking bronze.

“We are happy because three of us from Kenya finished with a medal. We are really happy we finished that way,” said Kirui.

Australia’s world silver medalist Kim Mickle threw a Games record of 65.96 to win the women’s javelin, a perfect boost after the country’s federation earlier suspended head coach Eric Hollingsworth for disparaging comments about the team’s star hurdler Sally Pearson.

  • Daniel Francis

    If he is based in Alabama, why is he competing in Commonwealth games?

    • Sam Piehl

      He’s a Grenadian studying at the University of Alabama and is a member of their track team.