Merritt shines as Americas begin Continental Cup defense

Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:36pm EDT
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(Reuters) - LaShawn Merritt romped to victory in the 400 meters at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech on Saturday as the Americas opened the defense of the title they won four years ago.

The American clocked 44.60 seconds for victory while compatriot Francena McCorory took the women's 400.

"It feels good to defend the Continental (Cup) title from four years ago," said Merritt, the former Olympic and current world champion.

"I tried to execute the race the way I planned, to stay smooth, trust my speed and my strength. All the guys were very hungry for the victory."

Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, captaining the Americas, won the women's 100.

"When you a captain of the team you feel big responsibility to be an example to the other athletes. I'm absolutely satisfied with my race today," she said.

Fellow Jamaican Kaliese Spencer rounded off her superb season with a dazzling display to win the 400 hurdles, adding the Continental Cup title to the Commonwealth Games gold medal she won in Glasgow earlier this summer.

The Americas did not have things all their own way in the sprints with Britain's James Dasaolu beating American Mike Rodgers in the men's race, clocking 10.03 seconds

"Definitely, 2014 is the year of my big breakthrough. After my win at European Championships I was focused in preparation for Continental Cup because it was important for me to make this race fast and easy," he said.   Continued...

Lashawn Merritt of the U.S.celebrates winning the men's 400 metres event during the Weltklasse Diamond League meeting at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich