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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the world’s fastest woman, was surprisingly beaten in her opening 100 meters of the year as Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor crushed a high-quality field in the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Sunday.
Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica’s double Olympic champion, looked sluggish as she trailed home fifth in 11.25 seconds while up ahead, Nigeria’s long jump-sprint luminary Okagbare-Ighoteguonor powered to victory in 10.98.
In a field containing six sprinters who have broken 11 seconds, Okagbare-Ighoteguonor’s huge stride over the second 50 meters comfortably held off a late challenge from American Tori Bowie, last year’s world number one, who clocked 11.07.
Fraser-Pryce could still summon a smile after her defeat -- even her experienced compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown pipped her for fourth place.
“I just didn’t execute the first part of the race well but, of course, it’s not the end of the world," she told Reuters. "It’s not the first time I’m losing.”
In one of a series of intriguing head-to-heads, Olympic 400m champion Kirani James destroyed his great American rival LaShawn Merritt and the rest of the field as he took the one-lap honors in 44.66 seconds.
World champion Merritt was edged out for the runners-up spot by compatriot Tony McQuay, 45.54sec to 45.58sec, as Grenadian James left the field flailing when loping majestically off the final bend.
Fraser-Pryce’s Jamaican compatriot Kaliese Spencer kicked off her campaign in the same way she dominated last year in the 400m hurdles, powering to victory in 54.71sec to extend her unbeaten record over the barriers to 11 races.
The 28-year-old, who eased clear of American Tiffany Williams (55.27), is beginning to look untouchable at the ‘man killer’ discipline and told reporters that she now felt hopeful of going unbeaten all the way to Beijing, where she expects to win her first world title.
Gong Lijiao, the Asian champion, delighted the home fans by winning the opening event, the shot, with a 20.35-metre winning effort, the best in the world this year.
With Valerie Adams recuperating from injury, opportunity knocks this year for Olympic bronze medalist Gong.
“I’ll try my best to change the color of my medal at the Beijing world championships,” Gong told reporters.
Editing by Ed Osmond