Canada's Armstrong wins bronze in shot put at Prefontaine

Associated Press

6/2/2012 6:07:12 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Canada's Dylan Armstrong captured bronze in the shot put at the Prefontaine Classic, continuing his march to the London Olympics with his second straight Diamond League medal.

The 31-year-old from Kamloops, B.C., threw a season's best 21.50 metres. American Reese Hoffa threw 21.81 to win the event, while 2008 Olympic gold medallist Tomasz Majewski of Poland was second with 21.61.

Armstrong, who won silver at the Diamond League stop in Shanghai last month, is rounding into form after suffering an arm injury during the indoor season.

Justin Rodhe of Kamloops, B.C., was seventh with a throw of 20.13.

Elsewhere, China's Liu Xiang won the men's 110-metre hurdles in a time of 12.87 seconds then bounded around the track with an unbridled exuberance.

That time would've tied the world record, but it was wind-aided by a slight margin. So the world mark belonging to Cuba's Dayron Robles remains safe -- for now.

Robles was actually scheduled to be in the field, but had trouble securing his visa and pulled out of the competition at the last hour.

There were still plenty of other rivals to push Liu, who held off Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson in what was billed as one of the marquee events at Pre. This race certainly lived up to the billing, with Liu getting off to a good start in the impressive victory.

"I just treated it as a regular race," Liu said through a translator.

His reaction to the win proved it was anything but just another race, especially this close to the London Olympics.

And had the wind not been gusting, this very well could've been a performance to remember.

These days, nothing Liu accomplishes on the track comes as a shock to Richardson.

"He's just amazing," Richardson said. "It almost goes without saying."

Allyson Felix was hard to miss in her aerodynamic black bodysuit with neon yellow patches on each leg. She impossible to catch, too.

In a 200-metre race that was supposed to tight, possibly even down to the wire, Felix breezed away from the field, easily beating training partner Jeneba Tarmoh and crushing her main rival Carmelita Jeter.

Sure, Felix's time of 22.23 seconds was hardly spectacular, but her performance was, especially with the Summer Games right around the corner. She showed that she's definitely rounding into form.

"I feel like I'm in a good place right now," Felix said. "I tried to focus and power in. But they told me it didn't look like I pushed very hard at the end."

Actually, she didn't appear to have to work very hard at all.

Felix risked a quick glance back after rounding the bend, just a tiny peek to size up who was about to make a move.

No one was even close.

"I expected it maybe to be a little tighter at the end," Felix said, smiling.

While Felix won with a big burst out of the starting blocks, the other big race of the day -- the men's 400 -- ended with a bang.

As in, a second bang to stop the race for a false start.

Teenager Kirani James of Grenada left the blocks a split second too early and was disqualified. But he protested and was allowed to run while the matter was sorted out.

The 19-year-old James got off to a solid start and had a slight lead on the homestretch. But reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt used a strong kick to pass James with a few meters remaining.

That was the opposite of what transpired at the world championships last summer in South Korea. In that race, Merritt couldn't hold off the hard-charging James.

"I wanted to focus on staying relaxed and running strong," Merritt said. "I feel like I'm in great shape, the training has been going well. It was just a matter of me not beating myself."

As for the false start, James said he thought the runners may have been held in the blocks a little too long.

"It happens," James said. "I'd rather it happen here than at the big one."

For Oscar Pistorius, his mission is to simply qualify for the Summer Games, and he's quickly running out of time. The double-amputee sprinter known as the "Blade Runner" finished the 400 in a disappointing time of 46.86 seconds.

Pistorius needs to run in 45.30 or better to give the South African his second Olympic time in the qualifying window. He has another chance next weekend in New York at the Adidas Grand Prix.

"I have to refocus after this and get some fuel in the tank for the next race," he said.

As for what happens if he doesn't meet the requirements, Pistorius just shrugged.

"I guess then I won't go," he said. "They haven't given us that side of the coin."

In other notable races on Saturday:

-- Mo Farah of Britain beat a talented field in the 5,000, including training partner Galen Rupp, who wound up third.

-- Sanya Richards-Ross edged world champion Amantle Montsho in the 400.

-- Wallace Spearmon captured the 200 in convincing fashion.

-- Justin Gatlin held off Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade in the 100.

"Everything is on the right track," Gatlin said. "Right now, it's all about putting together a great, sound race."


With files from The Canadian Press.