Williams wants to challenge James at AP Invitational

- Eyes 400m IAAF World U-20 Championships qualification

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On June 30, Kirani James, the Grenadian 400 metres Olympic and World Champion, will want to add the Aliann Pompey Invitational title on his long list of accomplishments, but 18-year-old Daniel Williams will be hoping to make a name for himself in his attempt to out-run the man known as the ‘Jaguar’.

James, at the JN Racers Grand Prix on June 9 in Jamaica, clocked an impressive 44.35 seconds to win the 400 metres in his first race in over a year after recovering from Graves’ disease (an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones).

The Grenadian’s time of 44.35 seconds is the eighth-best time in the world this year. James’ personal best in the 400 metres is 43.74 seconds, set in 2014.

“I had him down to do the 100 metres and 200 metres, but he said that he wants to do the 400 metres to rub shoulders with Kirani James,” Johnny Gravesande, the coach of Williams, said.

Williams will be joined by Deshana Skeete and Kenisha Phillips on Guyana’s contingent for the July 10-15 IAAF World U-20 Championships, set for the Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland.

Williams qualified for the 200 metres when he clocked 21.21 seconds, a personal best, in the Boys’ Under-20 final at the just concluded CARIFTA Games. The qualifying standard time set by the IAAF is 21.35 seconds.

However, last year, at the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, Williams clocked 46.72 seconds in the Boys 400 metres to win silver for Guyana; the country’s first at the championship which was the last of its kind, given the fact that it has since been cancelled by Athletics world governing body.

To date, Kadecia Baird owns Guyana’s lone medal at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships, running 51.04 seconds to finish second behind Americas Ashley Spencer but ahead of Erika Rucker (USA) in 2012, Barcelona, Spain.

“Given the fact that he’s going to Finland to do the 200 metres, I had him down to only compete in that race on Saturday, but he insisted that he wants to run against Kirani. I mean, he has a mind of his own and I think the fact that he’s that passionate about running the 400 metres, I’ll support him,” Gravesande said.

The qualifying standard time for the Under-20 championships 400 metres is 47.70 seconds, and according to Gravesande, the Aliann Pompey Invitational presents a perfect opportunity for Williams to reach the time, especially since he the Linden-based athlete has been “healthy and putting in the work.”

“He has been doing great, even though the weather got us a little bad in terms of using the track, but I think he’s in good shape to really put in a good time,” the award-winning coach pointed out.

Meanwhile, Williams will truly have to show his worth in the 400 metres on Saturday, with Nigerian Chidi Okezie, the African Championships 400 metres bronze medallist, Guyana’s 400 metres record holder (45.25 seconds) Winston George, US-based Guyanese Stephan James, Arinze Chance, Carlwyn Collins, Dequawn Nkosi Vancooten, Brian Roman, Shawn Semple and Joshua Walcott.

Fly Jamaica, E-Networks, Quality Plus, Banks DIH, the Ministry of Communities and SleepIn International Hotel and Casino are among the sponsors for the event.

Race time is 15:00h and tickets cost $1000 for regular admission and $5000 VIP.

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