Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ensured her quest for a sixth 100m title continued Sunday as a slew of world and Olympic champions safely negotiated heats at Budapest’s National Athletics Centre.
In sweltering conditions, Fraser-Pryce clocked 11.01 seconds in her heat to advance to Monday’s semi-finals (1640 GMT), with the final slated for two hours later the same night.
“I think I have the strength to give my best in the semis and hopefully in the final as well,” the 36-year-old said.
In-form American rival Sha’Carri Richardson set the fastest qualifying time of 10.92sec while another Jamaican favourite, Shericka Jackson, also cruised through her heat.
Norway’s Karsten Warholm coasted through to Monday’s semi-finals of the 400m hurdles, along with main rivals defending champion Alison Dos Santos of Brazil and American Rai Benjamin.
“Of course, the expectations are always high and people would like to see me winning races,” said Warholm, whose world record-setting performance when winning Olympic gold in Tokyo remains one of the stand-out moments in recent Summer Games history.
A loaded morning of qualifiers saw two-time former world champion Wayde van Niekerk, who also set a world record when winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, win his heat to advance into the semi-finals of the men’s 400m on Tuesday.
“These championships are just about putting my best foot forward and seeing what happens,” said the South African, beset by injuries since his victory in Rio.
“I’ve been running some solid times so I feel I’m coming back towards my best. Only time can tell when I get back where I was.”
Progressing alongside him were a raft of contenders in what is expected to be one of the hardest-fought events at the worlds in the absence of defending champion Michael Norman.
Reigning Olympic champion and 2019 world gold medallist Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas, Grenada’s former Olympic and world champ Kirani James, multiple relay medallist Vernon Norwood of the United States and Britain’s world bronze medallist Matthew Hudson-Smith all safely negotiated their heats.
Norwegian prodigy Havard Bentdal Ingvaldsen, 20, sent out a warning shot as he set a national record of 44.39sec to win his heat, the fastest time of the morning.
Qatar’s joint Olympic champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, seeking a fourth world title, will also get his chance to add to his honours after topping qualifying in the men’s high jump.
Holloway cruises, Broadbell out
Defending two-time world champion Grant Holloway came through his heat of the 110m hurdles, but there was no such luck for fancied Jamaican Rasheed Broadbell, who clipped a hurdle and crashed out.
And competition came too early for two-time Olympic champion and defending 400m gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.
Just four months on from giving birth to a baby son, the 29-year-old failed to advance from her heat, but insisted it had been a positive experience so close to childbirth.
“I feel proud,” she said. “I was training hard only for the past two weeks, so coming here and running 52 seconds feels awesome.”
Britain’s 2019 world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson threw a personal best of 46.14m in the javelin to take control of the heptathlon, on 5,710 points, with just the event-ending 800m to come, scheduled for 1600 later Saturday.
Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands is hot on her tail, just 26pts adrift.
Spain had earlier made it two from two in the 20km race walk as Maria Perez followed up on Alvaro Martin’s success by claiming gold in the women’s race.
The Spaniard broke clear of the peloton at the 16km mark and kicked on to clock 1hr 26.51sec.
Australia’s Commonwealth champion Jemima Montag, with Italy’s Antonella Palmisano rounding out the podium.
“Yesterday evening I felt so nervous I could not fall asleep and was forced to call to our doctor for help and medicines to help me take the final rest before the event,” admitted Perez.
“Thank God it helped and I felt more or less fresh in the morning.”
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