BAIE-MAHAULT, Guadeloupe (Sporting Alert) – Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt got his outdoor season off to a flyer after clocking a world-leading time to win the men’s 400-metres at the Stade de Baie-Mahault in Guadeloupe on Tuesday.

The American who was impressive at the Penn Relays last weekend took his main event in 44.73, the quickest so far this season – signalling his intent to defend his title successfully in London. His time bettered the 44.92 ran by Great Britain’s Martyn Rooney at the 2012 Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, on April 21.

Merritt is expected to battle again with world champion Kirani James of Grenada and others for the crown this summer.

Finishing second to Merritt was Luguelin Santos of Dominican Republic, who posted 45.29, with another American and 400m hurdles specialist Angelo Taylor taking third in 45.31secs.

Another Olympic champion winning at the meeting was Dayron Robles, who opened his outdoor term with a winning performance of 13.19 seconds in the men’s 110m hurdles.

USA’s Ronnie Ash was second to him in 13.30 with his teammate Joel Brown coming home third at 13.37. Barbadian 2009 World champion Ryan Brathwaite, who has run 13.29 this season finished last in a disappointing 13.72.

Beijing Olympic gold medallist Dawn Harper of USA won the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.71. Compatriot Virginia Crawford took second with 12.87 and Priscilla Lopez of Canada finished third in 12.95.

There were also wins at the meet for sprinters Lashauntea Moore of USA, and Churandy Martina of Netherlands.

Martina won the men’s 200m dash in in 20.40 – beating Trinidad & Tobago’s Rondell Sorillo (20.42) and Canadian Jared Connaughton (20.60).

Moore took the women’s 100m title with an impressive 11.11secs. Fellow Americans Jenaba Tarmoh (11.24) and Lauryn Williams (11.26) finished behind her.

In field events competition, Will Claye of USA took the men’s triple jump with a leap of 17.05m, while the women’s event went to Catherine Ibarguen of Columbia, who did a best mark of 14.73m. The men’s high jump went to Mike Mason with 2.31m.

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