By Amy Tennery EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) -Reigning world champion Noah Lyles showed he is no mood to give up his 200 metres crown after setting a red-hot pace to win his heat on Monday. The sprinting showman rounded the curve with ease before wagging his finger at the rest of the field down the straight […]
Athletics-Lyles puts 200m field on notice with red-hot heat
By Amy Tennery
EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) -Reigning world champion Noah Lyles showed he is no mood to give up his 200 metres crown after setting a red-hot pace to win his heat on Monday.
The sprinting showman rounded the curve with ease before wagging his finger at the rest of the field down the straight to finish in 19.98 seconds and advance to Tuesday’s semi-finals.
Celebrating his 25th birthday, Olympic bronze medallist Lyles said he had jitters during the three-day wait to compete in front of the home crowd in Eugene, Oregon.
His rivalry with fellow American Erriyon Knighton is expected to produce fireworks.
Lyles denied the 18-year-old a place on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics and ran past him down the stretch to clinch the national championship last month, prompting Knighton to storm off during a post-race interview.
Knighton got off to an explosive start on Monday before easing up near the halfway mark and cruising to victory in his heat in 20.01.
“I cannot ask for more, I am at the spot where I want to be,” said Knighton. “One of my best years, if not my best and I am just happy.”
Alexander Ogando, who helped the Dominican Republic pick up gold in the 4x400m mixed relay on Friday, equalled Knighton’s time in his heat, cruising past the U.S. Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek down the straight.
Two days after leading an American sweep of the 100m, Fred Kerley jogged through to the finish to win his heat but said he was “still in recovery mode”.
Canadian Andre De Grasse, the Olympic champion who took silver at the worlds three years ago, withdrew from the 200 after failing to qualify for the 100m final on Saturday.
Another Canadian, Aaron Brown, stumbled and fell forward after his blocks slipped but was issued a green card and allowed to run, finishing second in his heat behind 400m indoors champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago.
In the women’s heats, Jamaica’s terrific trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah rolled through to the semi-finals less than 24 hours after sweeping the 100m podium.
“Oh man, it was hard,” said Fraser-Pryce, who collected her fifth world 100m gold on Sunday. “It was a late night and I needed to come back and try to qualify as easy as I can to preserve my strength for tomorrow.
“Just have to go home and get some recovery done and see how it goes tomorrow.”
Making her debut at the world championships, home hope Abby Steiner won her heat comfortably in 22.26. Steiner posted the second-fastest time of the year at nationals on the same springy Hayward Field track last month.
Niger’s Aminatou Seyni and Namibian Beatrice Masilingi, who are barred from their preferred 400m event due to World Athletics’ “Differences of Sexual Development” rules, advanced to the semi-final with Seyni producing the fastest time (21.98).
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Eugene, Oregon, additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Peter Rutherford)