Christian double in Ponce

Sunday, 18 May 2008 Double victory for Christian in Ponce

Brendan Christian at the 2008 Ponce GP (Fernando Neris)

Ponce, Puerto Rico - Brendan Christian delighted the nearly 10,000 plus crowd with a double sprint victory at the 3rd Ponce Grand Prix on Saturday (18), where Angela Williams won the 100m and Brian Johnson beat Dwight Phillips in another close Long Jump duel.

The Ponce Grand Prix is also one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart.

Christian, the 2007 Pan American Games 200m champion, first equalled his Antigua and Barbuda record in the 100m with 10.11, ahead of 2003 World champion Kim Collins (10.23) of St. Kitts & Nevis and Brian Mariano (10.34) of the Netherlands Antilles.

One hour and a half later, the 24-year-old Christian stepped back on the track of the Paquito Montaner stadium for 200m. In this his main event, Christian cruised to a 20.21 secs victory, his third in the Caribbean circuit this season. He first won in Guadeloupe and then Martinique, where he set the national record of 20.12, the third fastest time in the year so far.

Canada’s 2006 World junior championships silver medallist Bryan Barnett (20.55) and Colombia’s Daniel Grueso (20.96) were distant second and third, respectively. Mariano took race one in 20.92.

In the women’s 100m, USA’s 2008 World Indoor 60m champion Angela Williams confirmed the pre-race favourite status as one of the stars of the night. The 28-year-old made a successful debut in Puerto Rico and clocked 11.32 to prevail over US Virgin Islands’ LaVerne Jones-Ferrete (11.37) and USA’s Ebonie Floyd (11.41).

Phillips upset again in the Long Jump

USA’s 2004 Olympic champion Dwight Phillips and Brian Johnson pleased the crowd with another top quality Long Jump contest, with the latter achieving his third victory on the Caribbean circuit in 2008.

The 2006 US champion landed at 8.27m to narrowly defeat the three-time world champion (8.25) as he did in Fort de France, on 8 May. Triple jump specialist Aarick Wilson completed the US sweep with a season’s best of 8.11.

Demus and McFarlane take the 400m Hurdles

Lashinda Demus had announced her intentions to win the 400m flat and Hurdles, but opted just for the latter, which is her main event.

The 2005 Helsinki World Championships silver medallist made a successful return to Puerto Rico with 55.34, nearly a second and a half off her world leading mark of 53.99, set in Martinique nine days earlier. It was sufficient to beat her countrywomen Dominique Darden (55.96), last year’s meet winner, and Markita James (56.53).

In the men’s race, 2004 Olympic runner-up Danny McFarlane took one of Jamaica’s two victories of the night with a 48.77 clocking, very close to his season’s best (48.74).

USA’s LaRon Bennett was second in 48.94 and 2006 Iberoamerican champion Javier Culson broke the 49-second barrier (48.99) for the third time this season to please the home crowd.

“I think I did a good race. I did my best, but I raced again some of the world’s best. I had a good start and passed the hurdles well, but I had a small problem in the ninth hurdle and made a mistake in trying to lengthen my steps,” Ponce-born Culson commented.

In the women’s 400m flat, Kia Davis of Liberia, who transferred her allegiance from the USA to her new country in December 2007, was the only winner from Africa with her 51.50 time.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Stephens (Modibo) took the men’s race (section two) in a season’s best of 45.01, ahead of Dominica’s 2007 Pan American Games bronze medallist Chris Lloyd (45.45), Bahamas’ relay World championships medallist Andrae Williams (45.52), Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes (45.69), fourth in Valencia, and African record holder Gary Kikaya of the DR of Congo (45.92) in fifth.Derrick Brew, the 2004 Olympic bronze and relay gold medallist of the USA, took the ‘section one’ men’s 400m in 45.88.

Another American double in the sprint hurdles

Americans stole the show in the sprint hurdles. Osaka bronze medallist David Payne made a successful season’s debut over the barriers with a 13.49-second victory in the 110m Hurdles, ahead of Aubrey Herring (13.52) and Jamaica’s Richard Phillips (13.56).

Enrique Llanos delighted the home second with his second national record of the year as he finished fourth in 13.57.

“I am very happy with the time and I know I can run faster. I was tired and this is only my second race of the year. I hope to be around in the low 13s in July”, said Llanos.

Kellie Wells of the USA equalled her season’s best to take the women’s 100m Hurdles in 12.71.

Sub-2mins for Clark

USA’s 2000 Olympic and 2005 World championships finalist Hazel Clark produced her first sub two-minute clocking of the summer (1:59.82) to win the women’s 800m.

Jamaican champion Chelsea Hammond dominated the women’s Long Jump (6.59m) while Ebonie Floyd, third in the 100m, was stronger in the women’s 200m with a season’s best of 22.80.

A Netherlands Antilles quartet, led by 2006 CAC and 2007 Pan American Games champion Churandy Martina, took the 4x100m relay in 38.83 and prevented the All Star A team and Brendan Christian a third victory on a very humid night.

An ‘All-Star’ squad made up of Nadine Faustin, LaVerne Jones-Ferrete, Dominique Darden and Wylleshiea Myrick joined efforts to win the women’s 4x100m relay in 43.97.

In total, over 100 athletes from 24 countries competed in Ponce, including 14 World and Olympic medallists. In total, six Puerto Rico all-comers records were set, as well as 12 new stadium marks.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF