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LaShawn Merritt, David Oliver Claim Diamond League Wins In Record-Breaking Fashion

By Craig Bohnert | May 22, 2016, 7:20 p.m. (ET)

LaShawn Merritt (C) races to victory ahead of Isaac Makwala of Botswana (L) and Abdalleh Haroun of Qatar (R) in the men's 400-meter final at the 2016 Doha IAAF Diamond League at the Qatar Sports Club on May 6, 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

LaShawn Merritt and David Oliver set meet records in the 400-meter and 110-meter hurdles, respectively, pacing a solid American performance at the Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco.

Two-time Olympic champion Merritt added to his Diamond Race series lead with a winning effort of 44.66 seconds in the men’s 400-meter, shaving 0.4 seconds off the six-year-old mark set by Jamaican Jermaine Gonzales. He also won at the opener on May 5 in Doha, Qatar, giving him 20 points in the series.

“This was a Diamond League field, so you can never take it easy,” Merritt said. “I knew they were going to take it out very fast, but I did my job and came through in the final stages. This is another great win with the Prefontaine Classic coming up.”

David Oliver, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, set a meet record in the men’s 110-meter hurdles with his time of 13.12, shattering the old mark of 13.37 set last June by Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France. It was needed to catch Spain’s Orlando Ortega, who came out of the blocks quickly but lost to Oliver by 0.01. Jason Richardson finished sixth in 13.54 to maintain his placement among the top 10 in the event’s Diamond Race. He is tied for ninth with two points, while Oliver improved to second with 15 points.

“Hurdles is about executing everything well,” said Oliver afterward. “I remained confident with Ortega being the faster starter. I’ve been in business for quite some time now and I know how to handle things. The U.S. trials and the Olympics are what it’s all about this year. I am building up a bit slower than usual, but I still ran a meet record and a decent time.”

Erik Kynard, silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, continued to lead the Diamond Race in men’s high jump with his second-place finish in Rabat, clearing 2.28 meters, just behind the 2.31 of Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine. With 16 points, Kynard has a six-point advantage on Bondarenko in the overall standings.

Cassandra Tate placed second in the women’s 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 54.69 seconds, trailing only Jamaica’s Janeive Russell, who needed a personal best of 54.16 seconds to best Tate. Russell now shares the series lead with Great Britain’s Eilidh Doyle, while Tate is two points back, tied for third with Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya.

Brittany Smith was third in women’s shot put with a toss of 17.84 meters, 1.84 meters off the winning throw of 19.68 meters by New Zealand’s Valerie Adams. The result moved Smith into a tie for fourth in the series standings, while Adams moved into a tie for second with Tia Brooks of the United States.

Marquise Goodwin, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, was third in men’s long jump with an effort of 8.11 meters, .34 meters off his world-best this season, an 8.45-meter jump in May. Rushwal Samaai of South Africa won Sunday with a leap of 8.38 meters, just edging out Australia’s Fabrice LaPierre, who covered 8.36 meters with his best try of the day.  Goodwin is fourth in the series standings, led by Samaai with 16 points.

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LaShawn Merritt

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David Oliver III

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Erik Kynard

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Marquise Goodwin