EUGENE, Oregon, Tuesday June 4, 2013 – World and Olympic 400 metre champion Kirani James has conceded that it was a tactical error which cost him a first win over the former World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday.
Merritt continued his unbeaten run against James on home soil to win the Prefontaine Classic in a season’s best 44.32 seconds.
James was second in 44.39 and American Tony McQuay took the third spot in 45.31.
“I allowed LaShawn to get ahead of me too much but it was a good overall race for me,” said James.
“Hopefully in the future it can be exciting as this one”.
Last month James won the one-lap event convincingly at the Diamond League in Shanghai, China.
Merritt, who will be 27 this month, is not concerned about age but rather his health and preparation for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
“I know he (Kirani) works hard and he’s growing every year. He understands the race but I am not going anywhere,” said Merrit who served a 21-month suspension for a doping violation and a hamstring injury which hampered the defence of his Olympic title.
“It’s sort of like I am the older guy in these races but I still feel young, only 26. So I take that in consideration and know that they are just younger than I am, but I am not old at all”.
The rivalry between Merrit and James, 20, is setting the stage for a major Moscow showdown in the men’s 400m at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
However, Merritt will first have to qualify at the USA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 20-23.
“It means I’m working hard and I’m taking a race at a time and the ultimate goal is Moscow and getting there and win,” he said.
“I go to Iowa and I will try to run three smart races to make the team and I look forward to Moscow and get there and go to work.”
James, an automatic qualifier as the defending world champion, is focus on his race execution.
“A meet like this is all about execution,” said the Grenadian athlete.
“If you get your execution wrong it could hurt you. World Champs is just about executing the race a lot better”.
James will next race in Ostrava at the Golden Spike on June 27 and then the Diamond League in Paris on July 6.
Merritt competes at the Golden Gala Diamond League in Rome on Thursday.