Centrowitz takes mile, Felix and De Grasse win sprints

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 20, 2016 7:42 PM

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Matthew Centrowitz surged to victory with a final-lap burst to repeat as Wanamaker Mile winner, while elite sprinters Allyson Felix and Andre De Grasse powered to wins at the 109th Millrose Games on Saturday.

Centrowitz, feeling sub-par due to congestion, laid back behind New Zealand rival Nick Willis before charging past at the gun for the final lap to win in a meet record 3:50.63 for a 2016 indoor best.

"Caught a little something this week, but still wanted to defend my title." Centrowitz said. "I couldn't attack it like I wish I could've until I had to."

Willis, the 2008 Olympic 1500 meters silver medallist, repeated his runner-up finish to Centrowitz from last year in 3:51.06 for his third second to go with a pair of thirds in Wanamaker bids.

Shannon Rowbury won the women's mile by nearly two seconds, clocking 4:24.39.

Felix and DeGrasse, sprinters with high Olympic expectations, were unhappy with their starts in the 60-metre dashes yet emerged victorious on the fast Armory track.

Four-times Olympic champion and nine-times world champion Felix was taking a break from arduous training in her quest for a rare 200-400m double at the Rio Olympics.

"This was about working on my start which still needs more work," said Felix, who won in 7.15 seconds, five-hundredths of a second ahead of world champion long jumper Tianna Bartoletta.

"My start will be huge for my 200 this year. I know it wasn't great (on Saturday) but I was in the race at least.

"My start has always been an issue and for the 200 it's key. The majority of the girls running the 200 are coming from the 100 and I need to be able to compete."

De Grasse, appearing as a professional for the first time in his 2016 debut, won his 60m race in 6.61 seconds, barely edging China's Bingtian Su by one-hundredth of a second.

The fast rising Canadian, who left the University of Southern California to sign with Puma, was last year's world 100m bronze medallist and winner of a 100-200 double at the Pan Am Games.

"Felt like I didn't have a great start but somehow I ended up finishing the race well," said De Grasse, 21. "I found myself in the back (out of the blocks) and had to go to my next gear."

In other strong performances, American Ryan Hill won the 3,000 meters in a 2016 indoor best of 7:38.82, just three-hundredths of a second ahead of American-Somali Hassan Mead.

Betsy Saina of Kenya took nearly 12 seconds off the year's indoor best in the 5,000m when she edged American Molly Huddle in 14:57.18.

(Editing by Andrew Both)