Kirani James

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Paul Chelimo grab defining wins at London Diamond League

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had not raced in the Diamond League in two years. Paul Chelimo had never won at an international meet.

Both grabbed wins at the first day of a Diamond League stop at the London Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Fraser-Pryce, the two-time Olympic 100m champion who missed 2017 due to pregnancy, broke 11 seconds for the first time as a mother. She won in 10.98 seconds, edging American Dezerea Bryant by .06.

“I cannot complain because I haven’t raced for ages and I’m happy that the run today was under 11 seconds,” said Fraser-Pryce, who has raced in smaller meets this spring and summer. “It’s hard work racing after having a child, but it’s not as though it’s anything I’m not used to. I’m used to sacrificing and making sure that my path is right. Being a mother is my first priority and to come back and be flexible with my training is wonderful and I’m so excited about next year now.”

The field lacked the world’s top sprinters — like Rio gold medalist Elaine Thompson and world champ Tori Bowie — but the Jamaican Fraser-Pryce impressed with the fastest time in the heats an hour before the final.

In the men’s 100m, meet headliner Christian Coleman withdrew before the heats with a hamstring injury. Coleman, the 2017 World silver medalist, missed all June meets with a hamstring injury. Countryman Ronnie Baker won in 9.90 in his absence, .02 off the fastest time in the world this season that he shares with Noah Lyles.

Full London results are here. The two-day meet concludes Sunday, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 9 a.m. ET and NBC Sports Gold at 8:45.

In other events, Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo became the second U.S. man to win a Diamond League 5000m. Chelimo surged past Ethiopian Yomif Kejelecha in the last straightaway for his first international win, according to Tilastopaja.org. He clocked 13:14.01 with world champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia grabbing second in 13:14.35 ahead of Kejelcha.

The only other American man to win a Diamond League 5000m was Ben True in 2014.

The 2012 Olympic 400m champion Kirani James finished third in his first Diamond League race since his Rio Olympic silver medal. James, of Grenada, missed time after being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease.

James led up until about 300 meters and faded in the last straightaway as Qatar’s Abdalleleh Haroun won in 44.07. James crossed in 44.50, just off his 2018 best time of 44.35 that ranks him 10th in the world this season.

In the pole vault, Sam Kendricks outdueled Renaud Lavillenie, clearing 5.92 meters to better the Frenchman for a 12th time in their last 15 head-to-heads, according to Tilastopaja.

U.S. champion Shamier Little outleaned Jamaican Janieve Russell to win the 400m hurdles by .01 in 53.95. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was third in 54.86.

“I put my soul into that lean,” Little said, according to meet organizers.

Little, the 2015 World silver medalist, has been best in the event in the second half of the season, following her June national title with two straight Diamond League wins. The fastest woman this year is American Sydney McLaughlin (52.75), who appears to have ended her season at the NCAA Championships in early June.

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Kirani James to miss world championships

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Kirani James, a 400m gold and silver medalist at the last two Olympics, will miss the world track and field championships in London in August.

James is recovering from an illness, the Grenada track and field federation president said Thursday.

The 24-year-old Grenadian last raced April 28, when he finished sixth at the Drake Relays in his slowest final time in nine years. James said afterward that he wasn’t injured or fatigued.

James could have been the biggest threat to Rio champion Wayde van Niekerk at worlds.

He posted the fastest 400m times in the Rio heats and semifinals before Van Niekerk surged to a world-record 43.03 seconds out of lane 8 in the final. James earned silver in 43.76, the second-fastest time for the year.

With James out, Van Niekerk’s path to a potential 200m-400m double at worlds just got a little easier.

However, the fastest 400m man in the world this year is upstart American Fred Kerley, who ran 43.70 on May 26.

Van Niekerk’s fastest time this year is 46.28, but all four of his 400m races this year came in South African meets in March and April before the outdoor season ramped up.

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South Africa’s Van Niekerk shatters 400 WR; Merritt takes bronze

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Getting placed in lane 8 for a major track and field race generally means that you’ll at best struggle to win a medal.

In the case of South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, running out of lane 8 for the final of the men’s 400 did nothing to keep him from either taking gold or shattering Michael Johnson’s world and Olympic records.

WATCH: Wayde Van Niekerk breaks record in men’s 400

Van Niekerk looked comfortable throughout the race, winning in an astonishing time of 43.03 seconds, breaking the Olympic record (43.49) by more than four tenths of a second and the world record (43.18) by 15 one-hundredths of a second. Taking silver was Greneda’s Kirani James, who took gold in the 400 four years ago, with American LaShawn Merritt taking bronze.

Both James (43.76 seconds) and Merritt (43.85) established new season bests in the 400, but neither had what it took to keep up with Van Niekerk. Running from lanes six and five, respectively, James and Merritt appeared to be headed towards a duel for goal as they rounded the final turn. But on the outside Van Niekerk maintained his pace, pulling away down the final straightaway and seemingly easing up through the finish line.

That’s how comfortable Van Niekerk was Sunday night, and as a result he is South Africa’s first Olympic champion in the 400 and a world record holder as well.