EUGENE (REUTERS) – Tokyo silver medallist Fred Kerley produced a world-leading 9.83sec in the men’s 100m heats at the US championships on Thursday (June 23) but there was a shock in the women’s preliminaries when fan-favourite Sha’Carri Richardson failed to advance.
World champion Christian Coleman, who returned to action in January after serving an 18-month suspension for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules, won his heat in 10.08sec while Trayvon Bromell clinched his in 10.10sec.
“I feel pretty decent. I feel like there’s definitely a lot I can still continue to build off of,” said Coleman “I feel pretty good for a prelim and so I’m pretty excited to try to put it all together tomorrow.”
The top three finishers in Eugene, Oregon, who meet certain qualifying standards, and reigning global title-holders advance to the first world championships to be held in the United States at the same track, starting on July 15.
Aleia Hobbs, a Tokyo relay silver medallist, posted the fastest time in the women’s heats (10.88sec) but Richardson, whose Olympic dreams were ended by a suspension for a positive cannabis test, got off to a bad start and finished fifth in her heat in 11.31sec.
Allyson Felix, the most decorated American athlete, won her 400m heat in 52.30sec as the 36-year-old competes in her final US championships before retiring.
“It’s tough,” said Felix, 21 years to the day since she first competed at the championships.
“I think more than physically just mentally, emotionally all of that – I think that’s been the biggest struggle.
“It’s bittersweet for sure. But also, I feel so ready. I don’t think I have anything left to give. And when I start to feel that I know it’s time.”
On the men’s side, Tokyo relay gold medallist Michael Norman was the fastest qualifier in 44.72sec.
A late surge propelled 800m world champion Donavan Brazier to a win in his heat in a time of 1min 46.49sec, his best performance of the season.
Twice world bronze medallist Ajee Wilson posted the quickest time in the women’s heats with 2:00.37, while 20-year-old Tokyo gold medallist Athing Mu and bronze medallist Raevyn Rogers also advanced.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, world record holder and Tokyo gold medallist Sydney McLaughlin led all the way to win her heat handily in 54.11sec, with reigning world champion Dalilah Muhammad missing out due to injury.