Sprint king Kerley opens season with 200m win

Publish: 4:02 PM, February 23, 2023 | Update: 4:02 PM, February 23, 2023

American sprint star Fred Kerley kicked off his season Thursday with a comfortable 200m victory in Melbourne, easing up in the final stretch to cross in 20.32 seconds.

The reigning 100m world champion and Tokyo Olympic silver medallist was the star attraction at the Maurie Plant meet, which has been upgraded to World Continental Tour Gold level — second only to Diamond League in status.

One of only three men in history to run sub-10 seconds for the 100m, sub-20 for the 200m and sub-44 for the 400m, he stressed during the week he wanted to focus more on the 200 after missing a medal at last year’s world championships.

“I just wanted to put on a show for the crowd,” said the 27-year-old, who powered into the front off the bend then eased off and lifted his arm in the air when he knew the race was won.

“I still got to work on the bend, but I’m not too worried about that. I know coming home, I’m good.”

Australia’s fastest man, Rohan Browning, came second in 20.71.

American Noah Lyles topped last year’s 200m times with a blistering 19.31sec at the world championships in Eugene, which put him third on the all-time list behind Usain Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake. Kerley has a personal best of 19.76.

Australia’s Ella Connolly won the women’s 200m in 23.28.

Browning won the men’s 100m (10.26) while Australia’s Naa Anang won the women’s (11.20).

Commonwealth 1,500m champion Oliver Hoare claimed the mile in 3:52.24.

The Australian finished ahead of New Zealand’s Sam Tanner, with America’s Rio Olympic 1,500m champion Matthew Centrowitz a distant 11th.

“It’s been a big couple of weeks and really proud,” said Hoare, fresh from leading Australia’s mixed relay team to bronze at the World Cross Country Championships last weekend.

Jessica Hull was also part of that bronze medal team and backed it up by cruising to the 1,500m title.

Fast-improving Ethiopian teenager Senayet Getachew capped a memorable week by winning the women’s 3,000m in 8:46.54 ahead of Uganda’s Prisca Chesang, smashing her personal best.

It came after the 17-year-old upset the pre-race favourites to win an arduous U20 women’s race at the cross-country worlds.

Kenyan Ishmael Kipkurui, the men’s U20 world cross-country winner, finished first in the men’s 3,000 in 7:41.38.