Canada's Andre De Grasse celebrates after winning a men's 200m during the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea athletics meeting, in Rome's Olympic stadium, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Andrew Medichini
June 08, 2017

ROME (AP) Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse blew past the field to post a dominating win in the 200 meters Thursday at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet.

For Aries Merritt, victory in the 110 hurdles marked his first Diamond League victory since a kidney transplant two years ago.

Meanwhile, reigning Olympic and world champion Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia was handed only her second loss in the triple jump since 2012.

At 20.01 seconds, De Grasse established a personal season best, keeping him on track to take over the world title from Usain Bolt, who does not plan to compete in the 200 at the world championships in London in August.

De Grasse already took silver behind Bolt at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics, pushing the Jamaican great to his limit in the semifinals.

This time, De Grasse's chief competition came from Olympic bronze medalist Christophe Lemaitre of France, who was the runner-up in 20.29 - several strides behind.

''This was a relaxed race for me. I wanted to come home and stay relaxed,'' De Grasse said. ''My coach told me to just hit it and to bring it home well.''

Ameer Webb of the United States finished third in 20.33 and 18-year-old Italian Filippo Tortu crossed fourth just one hundredth off the podium.

This was De Grasse's final 200 before the Canadian trials and worlds.

''My aim is to get three medals, like in Rio, definitely,'' De Grasse said. ''We have a strong relay team and I also hope to win a final in London.

''Bolt is a big target for me,'' De Grasse added. ''It's very exciting to be part of the young generation coming after Usain.''

Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion from the United States, clocked 13.13 to edge Orlando Ortega of Spain by five hundredths in the hurdles sprint.

''It was a bit sloppy,'' Merritt said. ''I made many mistakes, hit a lot of hurdles but my speed is getting better. After 2015 it was tough but I am here and I am healthy, so I just need to stay focused and the results will come.''

Olympic silver medalist Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the triple jump with a leap of 14.84 meters while Ibarguen finished second at 14.78.

Ibarguen's only other loss in five years came in Birmingham, England, a year ago.

Hellen Obiri of Kenya flirted with the world record in the 5,000, clocking a world-leading 14:18.37 while Ethiopian rival Genzebe Dibaba finished a disappointing sixth - more than 20 seconds behind.

Dibaba's older sister, Tirunesh, set the world record of 14:11.15 in 2008.

There was also a world-leading time in the women's 1,500, with Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands running 3:56.22.

''I did not push and I did not start too fast,'' Hassan said. ''It was not so hard for me. On the last 20 meters I was pushing myself.''

Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers won the women's 100 in 10.99.

''The more starts I have the faster I get,'' said Schippers, the Olympic silver medalist in the 200. ''I'm preparing myself for both distances, 100 and 200.''

It went down to the final throw for Thomas Rohler to win the javelin competition at 90.06, slightly off the 93.90 he achieved in Doha, Qatar, last month - which was the longest throw in 20 years. Fellow German Johannes Vetter finished second at 88.15.

''This team is really strong and anyone of us can win these competitions,'' Rohler said.

Also, Olympic champion Consesius Kipruto of Kenya established a new world leading time in the 3,000 steeplechase at 8:04.63 - 1.35 seconds off his winning time in Rio.


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