By Gary Smith and Steve Campbell, World-Track
MONACO — American Lashinda Demus send out perhaps the most highlighted warnings before the World Championships when she hammered a world-class field that included Olympic champion Melaine Walker to win the women’s 400m hurdles at the Herculis 2009 meeting in Monaco on Tuesday.
Taking out the field with another fast 200m, the American champion raced confidently around the curve and then pulled away from the pack to win the race in a world-leading and meeting record of 52.63 seconds.
She improved the world leading time by more a full seconds and was behind the 52.34 world record owned by Russia’s Yuliya Pechenkina.
And even with the commanding victory Demus said there is still room for improvement.
"I still think there is room for improvement,” confirmed Demus," she said.
Walker finished way down the track in second in a season’s best of 54.20 with Trinidad and Tobago’s Josanne Lucas third in 54.21.
What an upset
South African L.J. van Zyl created an upset in the men’s field when he chased down a strong field to win with a big personal best and year best of 47.94 seconds to beat American Bershawn Jackson, who finished second in a seasonal best of 49.98.
Jamaica’s Danny McFarlane was third in a seasonal best of 48.13 with Puerto Rican Javier Culson taking third in a personal best of 48.29. Jamaica’s Isa Phillips finished fifth in 48.52, while world champion Kerron Clement faded to sixth in 48.92.
Sally McLellan blasted her way to an Australian and Oceania record to win the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.50 seconds.
Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada was second in 12.54 with USA’s world season leader Lolo Jones (12.61) taking third.
Cuba’s world record holder Dayron Robles made up for a slow start with a well polished finish to take the men’s 110m hurdles in a meeting record of 13.06secs, running into a -0.9m/s headwind.
Robles, the favourite to add the world title to the Olympic crown he won in Beijing last year, raced home in front of American Joel Brown, second in 13.34 with Jamaican Dwight Thomas continuing his impressive run this season with a third place 13.36 effort.
American Olympic winner LaShawn Merritt landed another strong win in the men’s 400m with a well relaxed 44.72 victory, as he goes through his final preparation for the world championships.
After the race the Beijing champion said: "I don’t have a world title under my belt. I want that world title."
Another trademark start did the trick
Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser rocketed from the blocks in her usual style and then held off the closing field to win the women’s 100m in 10.91 seconds.
"When you get under 11 seconds it’s always good," Fraser said. "I’m just happy that I came out here and won against a quality field."
The men’s race went to Dutch Antilles’ Churandy Martina over American Darvis Patton.
Martina, a finallist at the Olympics last season ran 10.07 to just finish in front of Patton (10.08) with another American Rae Edwards taking third with 10.12.
Fast middle distance running too..
Mehdi Baala ran the third fastest 1500m time in the world this year and his personal best, when he left a strong field trailing with his winning time of 3:30.95.
Meanwhile, Abubaker Kaki held off a strong finish from the coming field to win the men’s 800m in 1:43.50, as the top four finishers broke the 1:44.00 barrier.
Russia’s Yuriy Borzakovskiy posted 1:43.58 for second place with American Nick Symmonds running a personal best of 1:43.83 for third and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski taking fourth, also in a career best effort of 1:43.84.
Stunning run from Vessey
American Maggie Vessey showed she has recovered from a slight niggled earlier this season when she sizzled to a world-leading a career best time of 1:57.84 to win a fast women’s 800m race.
In an event that saw 9 of the 10 starters going faster than two-minutes, Vessey raced home ahead of Russia’s Mariya Savinova (1:58.39) and British pair of Jennifer Meadows (1:58.63) and Jemma Simpson (1:59.09). Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair finished fifth in 1:59.13.
And the rest
Moses Ndiema Kipsiro broke his own Ugandan record to win the men’s 3000m with 7:30.95.
World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal from Bahrain set down another strong finish to take the women’s race 3:58.83.
In other results, Croatian world champion Blanka Vlasic ended a three meeting losing streak to German rival Ariane Friedrich when she won the women’s high jump on count-backs.
Both jumper cleared the 2.03m, but Vlasic did it with two tries, while Friedrich went three attempts. They both failed to clear 2.05m.
Elsewhere, Cuban Yargelis Savigne (14.89m) won the women’s triple jump, Czech’s Barbora Spotakova (65.37m) celebrated victory in the women’s javelin over Germany’s Steffi Nerius (62.33m), Frances’ Renaud Lavillenie (5.88m) won the men’s pole vault, while South Africa’s Godfrey Khotso Mokoena (8.28m) won the men’s long jump.