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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Grenada's teen sensation Kirani James could deny USA Olympic track glory

Grenada's teen sensation Kirani James could deny USA Olympic track glory

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http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/more-sports/grenadas-teen-sensation-kirani-james-could-deny-usa-olympic-track-glory/story-e6frey6i-1226265719647

Grenada's teen sensation Kirani James could deny USA Olympic track glory

Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
February 08, 2012



Watch out America: Grenada's Kirani James, left, who pipped out LaShawn Merritt to win the 400m world title, could deny the USA individual track glory in London. Source: AP


GRENADA'S teenage world 400m champion Kirani James confirmed this week he may be the man who bestows the final indignity on the USA by denying them an individual sprint gold medal on the track at the London Olympics.

While at the Perth Track Classic this Saturday Australians will be sorting out who, if any, deserve to be selected to sprint at the Games which open in July, James is delivering on his plans to extend his global domination.

More than any other track event, the US has owned the men's 400m at the Olympics winning the last seven gold medals dating back to the US-led boycott in 1980 of the Moscow Games.

But James, 18, in only his fourth professional race (three of which were run at the world championships in Daegu, Korea last year) ran down LaShawn Merritt who led a US clean sweep of the 400m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"This is, to my mind, the most important event that ever happened to our country," the Grenada island's police commissioner, James Clarkson, said of James' world title win. "Even more important than Christopher Columbus landing."

James' coach, 1976 Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist Harvey Glance, who says James as a "freak of nature", has no doubt he can continue to improve on his best time of 44.60sec.

Refering to James' progression through world age-14 and 15 bests of 46.96 and 45.70, University of Alabama coach Glance predicted: "He's only going to get faster and stronger. He really wants to put his country on the map. We want to rewrite history."

Last weekend James continued to progress, winning the Boston Indoor 400m in a world pacing 45.96. "There are so many other good 400 men everywhere, and I know anything can happen, but right now things are looking pretty good," said James.

A week earlier Jamaica's Asafa Powell won the US Indoor 55m sprint, beating among other America's 2004 Athens Olympic 100m gold medallist Justin Gatlin.

Former 100m world record-holder Powell was hurt and didn't compete in Daegu but it hardly dented Jamaica's assault with Yohan Blake winning the 100m and his training partner Usain Bolt, disqualified for a false start in the 100m, winning the 200m and sharing in the 4x100m relay victory.

With the possible exception of Tyson Gay, returning from surgery, there are simply no Americans who look capable of beating world records-holder Bolt or Blake over 100m and 200m.

The scenario is less clear in women's sprints with California's Carmelita Jeter being some experts' choice as the best female athlete in the world in 2011.

But US women are under almost as much pressure with the rise of Caribbean and African sprinters.

Although Jeter won the 100m at the world athletics championships in Daegu, last year and is history's second fastest woman behind fellow American Florence Griffith Joyner (Flojo), there are several Caribbeans who appear capable of beating her - not least, the Olympic 100m titleholder Shelley Fraser Pryce of Jamaica who did not defend her world title in Korea.

Allyson Felix, the most decorated among current US long sprinters, attempted the double in Daegu and finished second in the 400m to powerfully framed Amantle Montsho of Botswana, and then third in the 200m behind Jamaica's Veronica Campbell Brown (VCB) with Jeter claiming silver.

The depth among Jamaican women sprinters is already astonishing and still on the rise.

In the 100m, VCB has 33 sub-11 times. Kerron Stewart has 20. Fraser-Pryce has 14, including the Jamaican national record 10.73, and Sherone Simpson has 12. Jeter has run 26 times under 11sec.

Jamaica's overall sub-11 total is 153 - about a quarter of the global all-time list of 595. Astonishing over-representation for a nation of less than three million people, or less than the population of Sydney.

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Running Man

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What an incredible athlete. It's amazing that at 19 he is the man to beat in the Olympic 400m. I know I'm not alone in being excited to see what Kirani can do come London.

In this article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/london-2012-olympics-blog/2012/jan/12/jermaine-gonzales-usain-bolt-training?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487) Jermaine Gonazles talks about his and the Jamaican team's preparation for the Olympics.

"In between my training sessions I've been studying a few tapes of Kirani James, the 19-year-old from Grenada who won gold at the world championships last year. He's young, so we're still learning about him and how he runs.

I think everybody has a weak spot, you just have to try and figure it out and try to hit them there hard. The way I see it James is someone who sits back and waits in the last 100m. If you could run a really aggressive first 300m and get out in front of him, then hold on to that lead, you can beat him. That's what I am looking to do. So right now I'm doing over-distance work, running 600m, taking a break, then two sets of 500m, another break, and then 300m to finish the set.
"

youngy

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Thanks 'Running Man' - great pick up.

Not sure it's such a smart move to telegraph your punches. I'm sure by the time the Olympic final comes around, Harvey Glance would have established the ideal race pattern for Kirani.....if he hasn't already.


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Running Man

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I'd agree with you there, but perhaps they are trying to use his inexperience and youth against him? In the world champs he essentially came in with nothing to lose and no pressure on his shoulders. Perhaps he won't be able to perform as well knowing he is the most talked about and favoured athlete for the gold medal. That said he doesn't look like the type to buckle under pressure and this is all speculation on my behalf.

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