LaShawn Merritt

DES MOINES – LaShawn Merritt admits that Kirani James was the better man on the day after the American was beaten in the Rio Olympic Games Preview Men’s 400m by the Grenadian at the 2016 Drake Relays on Friday night.

Merritt opened his 400m campaign in the cold conditions that pushed out low 50 degrees temperatures – with a very fast 44.22 seconds, but the USA star had to settle for second behind James, after the Olympic champion clocked a world-leading and Drake Relays meeting record of 44.08 seconds for the victory.

Entering the home straight on Friday night, the Grenadian held a slight lead over Merritt, who was unable to close the gap.

After the race, the 29-year-old revealed that he struggled to cope with the chilly temperatures, but added that he wasn’t trying to make excuses for the defeat, admitting that James, who has been bang on form this early season, was just the better athlete on the day.

“I competed,” Merritt said after the race during an interview. “Like I said, the conditions was what they were.

“He was the better man today. We’ll get ready for the next time.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic champion and IAAF World Championships gold medallist in 2009 and 2013, explained what happened during the race.

“When I put the spikes on, I was like ‘Oh My God’ and I was doing my little warm-ups on the track I felt my feet.

“So when I took off, I just couldn’t push like I wanted to, but no complaints, and because of that I felt like I couldn’t execute like I wanted too.

“But it’s alright, I am feeling healthy and will get ready for the next one.”

Merritt, who leads the world over 200m with a personal best time of 19.78secs, has had a promising start to the Olympic year and he will certainly be looking to bounce back in the next race.

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