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Spotlight firmly on in-form Coleman 

The men’s 100M will be the cynosure among six finals to be held on Day 2 at the Khalifa International Stadium.
17th Iaaf World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 Day One
Christian Coleman of the US set the fastest time in the 100M heats at the IAAF World Championships on Friday. Photo: Getty Images for IAAF

Six finals are scheduled on the second day of the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha and the spotlight will most certainly be on the men’s 100M.

The blue riband event of world athletics is on the lookout for a new star and in the first round on Friday, it was heat six featuring American title favourite Christian Coleman that stood out.

Coleman came to Doha under a cloud after missing three dope tests but was calmness personified. He rushed out of the blocks, glided past his opponents, eased off well before crossing the finish line, and yet was the evening’s only runner to finish under 10 seconds (9.98sec).

South Africa’s Akani Simbine (10.01), defending champion Justin Gatlin (10.06) and Jamaica’s Yohan Blake (10.07) were the next three fastest qualifiers. A total of 24 runners progressed to the semifinal.

Coleman, the fastest runner this year, was not very chatty after his win. “It felt great,” he said curtly before exiting the arena.

In stark contrast, American Gatlin, who had refused to speak to the media before the start of the Doha Worlds, opened up with a smile.

“The first hurdle in Doha has been crossed, and that’s all I’m thinking about. I’m not feeling the effects of the injury I had in Zagreb. All’s well,” he said.

17th Iaaf World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 Day One
Jamaica’s Yohan Blake comfortably won his heats at the IAAF World Championships on Friday. Photo: Getty Images for IAAF

Blake, the joint-second fastest man in history (with American Tyson Gay), seems to have finally stepped up.

The 30-year-old did not seem to breathe before the start of the race, staring intently back at the camera. But his old self emerged 10.07sec later, mimicking the motions of a robot and pointing to the clock as if to say, ‘I’ve only just begun.’

“I executed my plan well, and I’m looking forward to the semifinals. I didn’t put undue pressure on myself. I just went with the crowd’s cheers,” he said, hinting that bigger things could be on the way.

While Coleman will feature in Saturday’s first semifinal, Gatlin and Blake will go head to head in the second. Simbine will lead the group in semifinal three. Sparks will certainly fly as the big guns come face to face.

In the long jump pit, Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria, whom American world record holder Mike Powell chose as his likely successor, will start as the favourite.  He comfortably qualified for the final with a leap of 8.40M.

The reigning indoor world champion’s rivals include America’s Rio Olympics gold medallist Jeff Henderson (8.12M in qualifying) and Japan’s reigning Asian champion Yuki Hashioka (8.07).

The women’s hammer throw final could boil down to a contest between the US and China, with two throwers from each nation qualifying for the final.

USA’s DeAnna Price was the top thrower during the qualification phase, hurling the hammer to 73.77M. Her compatriot Gwen Berry qualified in 10th place (71.72). The two Chinese throwers — ’17 London World Championships silver medallist Zheng Wang and Na Luo — could also pose a challenge.