Dafne Schippers and Tori Bowie in the 60m heats at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© Getty Images)
US champion Barbara Pierre had a flawless start to her 60m campaign, rocketing from the blocks in the final heat and powering down the track to win in 7.07, the fastest of all qualifiers.
“I wasn't even trying to run that fast," said Pierre. "I just had to make sure I got through to the next round."
It was a cautious start for her chief rival in Portland, Dafne Schippers, who twitched in the blocks then had the second slowest reaction time of the field (0.184), which put her at an immediate disadvantage. However the class of the Dutch athlete soon told and she powered through to win in 7.13 from American Tori Bowie (7.15) and Laverne Jones-Ferrette (7.27) of the US Virgin Islands.
“It was good,” said Schippers. “It was okay for now. The only thing I can do is take it race by race.”
The athlete Schippers beat into second to take the world title over 200m last year, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, proved she will be a threat once again when streaking to victory in the first heat in a personal best of 7.09. British champion Asha Phillip also advanced automatically in second, running 7.18.
“Competing in the 60 is a good experience,” said Thompson. “It’s my first time at the World Indoors, and it should lead me to a better time in the 200m.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye announced her medal intentions by running a national record of 7.09 to win the fourth heat just ahead of Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (7.12) and Gloria Hooper of Italy, who ran a personal best of 7.29 to take the final automatic qualification spot.
“I’m very happy about it,” she said. “I was expecting it to happen, but not in the first round.”
Germany’s Tatjana Pinto edged a close third heat to beat Jamaica’s Simone Facey, 7.19 to 7.20. Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel took third in a personal best of 7.23, with Ukraine’s Olesya Povkh advancing on time in 7.29.
“I’ve made a big improvement this season,” said Pinto. “It took a lot of hard work and attention to detail to get to this level. I’m really excited for the semifinal.”
Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast took victory over Jamile Samuel of the Netherlands in the fifth heat, 7.17 to 7.19. Ecuador’s young sprint star Angela Tenorio took the third automatic spot in 7.24, while Tahesia Harrigan-Smith of the British Virgin Islands and Dutee Chand advanced on time, with both running 7.30.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF