Javier Culson joins the sub-48 club in Ponce (Fernando Neris) © Copyright
General News Ponce, Puerto Rico

Culson clocks world leading 47.72 in Ponce

 Local idol Javier Culson exceeded expectations on home soil as he ran a world leading and national record of 47.72 in the 400m Hurdles to highlight the 4th Ponce Grand Prix on Saturday (8) in this southern Puerto Rican city.

Running in lane four, the 2009 World Championships silver medallist confirmed his early season form and was propelled by top names like USA’s Michael Tinsley (48.46) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon (48.47), who were second and third.

The Dominican Republic’s 2004 Olympic and two time World champion Felix Sanchez finished fourth in 49.21, ahead of Jamaica’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Danny McFarlene (49.36).

The crowd of 10,000 at the Francisco Paquito Montaner stadium stood up to follow his race and the screen showing the time. When he crossed the finished line first, the crowd exploded with joy. Culson put his hands on his face, showing a mixture of happiness and incredulity.

“In my first race (of the season), I amended some technical elements for the second race. I did the same in the second race (last weekend). I was expecting a perfect race today, but I made mistakes in the fourth and fifth hurdles”, explained the 25-year old as the crowd continued to applaud him.

Watching from the stands was his agent and former World record holder Michael Johnson.

Culson admitted he was not at his 100% level and did not expect to run this fast. His focus was to win. “It is like being born again,” he told the local media when asked how he felt running in front of his own people.

The 2009 CAC champion also eclipsed his meet record of 48.43 from 2009, and the previous 2010 world leading of 48.16, set by USA’s two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor a week earlier in Guadeloupe. Culson also moved up to third on the CAC All-time lists, only slower than Sanchez (47.25 in 2003) and Jamaica’s Wintrop Graham (47.60 in 1993).

Culson is set to become one of the stars of the upcoming Central American and Caribbean Games, to be held on home soil Mayaguez, 17 July – 1 August. The IAAF Diamond League is also his main goal in 2010.

USA’s Dominique Darden took the women’s race in 55.38.

13.12 World lead for Oliver, Neville upsets Wariner

Also over the hurdles, USA’s David Oliver improved his own world leading 110m time with a clear win in 13.12, a new GP record as well, ahead of Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas (13.41) and his fellow countryman, World and Olympic medallist David Payne (13.42), who was defending his Ponce title from 2009.

Five women dipped under 13 seconds in the 100m Hurdles, led by 2008 Olympic fourth placer Damu Cherry (12.82), ahead of her countrywoman and defending champion Kelli Wells (12.86) and Jamaican Vonette Dixon (12.93).

There were also high expectations on the 400m flat as USA’s 2004 Olympic and two time world champion Jeremy Wariner chose Ponce for his season’s and Latin American debut.

However, his countryman and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Neville prevailed with 45.44 in a close finish with Wariner (45.47).

In third came 2010 World Indoor bronze medallist Jamal Torrence (45.57).

The sixth meet record of the night fell in the women’s one lap race as World Olympic relay champion Natasha Hasting ran 51.47 in her first 400m of the year.

Fresh from her individual and relay double at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, Debbie Dunn dominated clearly the 200m in 22.86, as her countryman Xavier Carter did in 20.75.

Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles successfully defended his 2009 win with a photo finish win over USA’s Trell Kimmons. Both were time 10.12, a personal best for the latter. Trinidad and Tobago’s Aaron Armstrong came third in 10.17, ahead of 2004 Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford (10.29) and 2007 World Championships runner-up Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas (10.31).

USA’s Gloria Asumnu took the women’s race in 11.15, ahead of Gabon’s 2010 World Indoor Championships finalist Zang Milama Ruddy (11.22) and Bahamas’ multi World and Olympic medallist Chandra Sturrup (11.23). The trio ran faster than the previous meet record of 11.28, set by LaVerne Jones-Ferrete in 2009.

The middle distance events went to South African Peter Van der Westhuizen (3:38.72 in 1500m) and Grenadian Neisha Bernard-Thomas (1:59.92).
Kimmons, Carter, Crawford and sprint hurdler Ryan Wilson joined efforts to take the men’s 4x100m relay in 38.87, followed by meet record holders Netherlands Antilles (39.06).

Sprint hurdler Hector Cotto, Yavid Zackey, Luis Lopez and Miguel Lopez pleased the crowd with another national record as they clocked 39.15, faster than the previous standard of 39.47, set in 2002.

Other winners were Funmi Jimoh (6.77m), who produced the first of the six meet records, and Trevell Quinley (7.90) of the United States, in the Long Jump.

The 4th Ponce Grand Prix, a stop of the NACAC calendar, featured over 20 World and Olympic medallists and athletes from 20 countries. Following the successful organization of the Iberoamerican Championships in 2006, Ponce has staged its annual Grand Prix. Direct TV broadcast the Grand Prix live to Latin America. The Paquito Montaner stadium also hosted the 1975 CAC Champs and the 1993 Central American and Caribbean Championships.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

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