Bershawn Jackson’s worldleading 48.32 victory in the 400m Hurdles was the key highlight at the 81st Kansas Relays in Lawrence on Saturday (19).
It was the fifth victory in the last six years for the 24-year-old former World champion and more significantly, the quickest season opener in his specialty.
“It feels great to be back and running fast again. I'm coming off a terrible season,” said Jackson, the 2005 World champion. Last year, Jackson failed to advance from the semi-finals at the World Championships in Osaka.
“I had very good performances, but I kept getting injured. My rhythm was off. I was ready at worlds, but I couldn't get that last hurdle. I think my biggest downfall was rhythm and me being injured and not running enough races. I ran in a total five races last year.”
This season, Jackson believes, will signal a return to better form.
“It's been an up and down season, I came out running pretty good indoors and then I hurt my hamstring so I'm a bit out of shape, but I'm still fit and still good.” Jackson illustrated a good show of speed earlier this month after a 45.55 victory in the flat 400m at the Florida Relays in Gainesville.
“I felt very relaxed coming out of the blocks and I finished strong so I'm very satisfied with my race. I'm interested to see what we do later on in the season.”
Jackson finished well ahead of Jamaicans Adrian Findley (48.93) and Ian Weakley (49.48).
Upcoming races for Jackson, aka “Batman,” include the adidas Track Classic in Carson before coming to Europe to contest the Berlin and Oslo stops of the ÅF Golden League.
“I'll be gearing up for the [U.S. Olympic] trials and getting ready. Last Olympic trials I took fourth so this is a big year for me.”
Cantwell opens with clear victory
Recently-minted World indoor champion Christian Cantwell made his outdoor debut as well, winning with first round 20.58m effort.
The 27-year-old two-time World indoor champion produced just two legal throws in his series, but even his 20.53m toss in the fifth round would have sufficed to beat back the challenge of runner-up Dorian Scott of Jamaica. Scott, the early-season world leader (21.45 NR) reached 20.19m in the fourth round to secure second place ahead of Americans Steve Manz (19.97m) and Dan Taylor (19.87m).
Former NCAA star Nicole Denby won the women’s 100m Hurdles in 12.78 in her first outing of the season. With a 3.8 m/s wind at his back, Antwon Hicks won the men’s 110m Hurdles in 13.26, well ahead of Eric Mitchum (13.58).
Jamaican Elva Gouldbourne won the Long Jump with a 6.68m leap, out-distancing early season world lead Funmi Jimoh’s 6.59m (w +2.2) best effort. Aarik Wilson nabbed the Triple Jump title after his opening round 17.05m (+2.6) leap. Jim Dilling took the victory in the High Jump with a 2.25m clearance.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF