Since the start of June, LaShawn Merritt has lost just once in nine races. That reverse came at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, when the US athlete finished second to Olympic champion Kirani James.
There was no James in the field this time in the Grande Stade but Merritt, a two-time world champion and winner of the 2014 Diamond Race, faced a threat from Isaac Makwala, the Botswanan who won the African title on the same track a month ago.
Coming into the home straight, Makwala led the way and was looking good. Merritt, however, maintained his composure and eased past his rival some 30 metres from the line to claim victory in 44.60.
In doing so, the 2008 Olympic champion became the first man to win the event twice, backing up his 2006 success in Athens.
Makwala finished second in 44.84, with Asia-Pacific’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi, from Saudi Arabia, third in 45.03.
“It feels good to defend the Continental Cup title from four years ago,” said Merritt. “I tried to stay smooth and trust my strength.”
"This guy is a world champion and he beat me with his experience," said Makwala. "I am going to rest until November and then come out to fight this guy at the World Championships next year.”
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF