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Athletics | International

Kirani James © Reuters Images

James, Merritt to renew rivalry in Eugene



Olympic champion Kirani James will try to build on his sizzling Shanghai performance when he leads a talent-loaded 400m field on Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League athletics meeting in Eugene, Oregon.

James, who became Grenada's first Olympic medallist in any sport when he won the 400m gold in London last year, clocked the best time in the world this year of 44.02sec at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Shanghai on May 18.

In Shanghai, he got the better of 2008 Olympic gold medallist LaShawn Merritt, leaving the American out for revenge on home soil.

Merritt, who has struggled back from a doping ban disgrace, didn't contend in London, where he was injured in the heats.

He'll get a chance to test himself against the top five finishers from London: James, silver medallist Luguelin Santos of Dominican Republic, bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, veteran Chris Brown of the Bahamas and Belgium's Kevin Borlee.

Although the 34-year-old Brown was shut out of the medals in the individual race, he led the Bahamas to 4x400m relay gold in London.

The field also features a further transatlantic threat in the form of European champion Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic.

The Prefontaine, the fourth of 14 stops in the IAAF's elite Diamond League series, opens on Friday night with a slate of distance events.

Britain's Mo Farah, the 5 000 and 10 000 Olympic gold medallist who trains in nearby Portland, made a last-minute switch from the 10 000m to the 5 000m, joining American training partner Galen Rupp in a field that also includes London bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa.

The 10 000m features world record-holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and his younger brother Tariku – who held off his star sibling for bronze in London.

Jamaica's world indoors silver medallist Nesta Carter heads a men's 100m field that also features Olympic bronze medallist Justin Gatlin.

Gatlin is undefeated over 100m this year, with victories in Doha and Beijing. Both he and Carter have dipped under 10 seconds at the distance this season, which will be highlighted by the World Championships in Mowcow August 10-18.

The women's 100m promises an explosive race with a field headed by Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, world champion Carmelita Jeter, 200m world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and 200m Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

The women's 400m, like the men's, will feature all three of the 2010 Olympic medallists, led by London champion Sanya Richards-Ross.

Richards-Ross will make her season debut after a late withdrawal from the Diamond League meeting in New York on Saturday as she continued to recover from toe surgery.

Her return to action will see her up against London silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain and bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter of the United States.



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