Commonwealth Games: Kirani James cruises to victory to take 400m gold

Gold medallist Kirani James poses on the podium during the award ceremony for the men's 400m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Gold medallist Kirani James poses on the podium during the award ceremony for the men's 400m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

GLASGOW (AFP) - Olympic champion Kirani James handed out a comprehensive lesson in one-lap running when he cruised to victory in the 400m in a star-studded track and field session at the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Alabama-based Grenadan, who won world gold in 2011 aged 18 and Olympic gold in London a year later but flopped in the 2013 Moscow worlds, clocked a Games record of 44.24sec with his fluid, easy-on-the-eye style.

"I am happy for my country and everyone affiliated to us," said James of Grenada's first-ever Commonwealth gold.

"I knew I had to stay composed and relaxed. The crowd are fantastic, they cancel out the weather."

James' exploit was just one of the highlights of top-quality athletics entertainment, notably featuring a second Kenyan clean sweep in as many days and Valerie Adams stretching her unbeaten record in the shot put to 56 tournaments.

Canada also consolidated their place among the medal leaders with two more golds from Brianne Thiesen-Eaton and Derek Drouin in the heptathlon and men's high jump respectively, following a double haul from Damian Warner (decathlon) and Jim Steacy (hammer) on Tuesday.

And Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha was also on show, qualifying for Thursday's final in a cool gun-to-tape semi-final victory.

"I ran from the front and controlled the race," said the Kenyan who set the world record when winning in London 2012.

"I am getting better every time, my body is responding well so I am happy about that. There will be tough guys (in the final). I will treat it like a tactical championship race."

James' victory was never in doubt from lane six, South African Wayde van Niekerk confirming his promise with a blistering opening half that helped him to silver in 44.68sec, Trinidad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon claiming bronze (44.78).

In the field, New Zealand's Adams once again showcased her unbeatable talent, adding a third Commonwealth crown to two Olympic and four world gold medals, easily beating the field with her second effort of 19.88m.

"I'm happy with the medal but frustrated with the distance," said Adams. "I come from a very small country and the track and field is very dominated by eastern European countries, so for me to keep winning I'll have to work hard.

"The Commonwealth Games is pretty important to New Zealand and to me especially, and I'm happy the gold was reached. I'm pretty stoked."

After their teammates swept the 10,000m on Tuesday, the Kenyan 3000m steeplechasers were not to be outdone, Purity Cherotich Kirui surging home in 9min 30.96sec to pip world and defending Commonwealth champion Milcah Chemos Cheywa, with Joan Kipkemoi taking bronze.

"We are happy because three of us from Kenya finished with a medal. We are really happy we finished that way," said Kirui.

Australia's world silver medallist Kim Mickle threw a Games record of 65.96m to win the women's javelin, a perfect boost after the country's federation earlier suspended head coach Eric Hollingsworth for disparaging comments about the team's star hurdler Sally Pearson.

Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of England won the long jump with a best of 8.20m ahead of South African duo Zarck Visser (8.12) and Rushwahl Samaai (8.08).

"People tried to write off the Commonwealth Games but try to say that to someone who's won a medal," beamed the Englishman.

Thiesen-Eaton claimed her gold under the watchful eye of American husband Ashton Eaton, the defending world and Olympic decathlon champion.

She managed bests of 13.18sec in the 100m hurdles, 1.84m in the high jump, 13.71m in the shot put, 23.41sec in the 200m, 6.44m in the long jump, 43.13m in the javelin and 2:11.46 in the 800m for a Games record total of 6597 points in the two-day seven-discipline event.

Teammate Jessica Zelinka took silver on 6270 with England's Jessica Taylor claiming bronze (5826).

Canada's impressive medal charge was maintained by Drouin, who this season became just the 10th man ever to clear 2.40m.

In tricky conditions, the world and Olympic bronze medallist won with a best of 2.31m from Cyprus' two-time world medallist Kyriakos Ioannou (2.28) and another Canadian in Michael Mason (2.25).

To cap a breathtaking evening session at Hampden Park, Nigeria's recently-crowned 100m champion Blessing Okagbare took another step in her bid for a glorious treble when she negotiated the 200m heats with aplomb.

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