Murielle Ahoure in the 60m at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure, who first came to international attention when she won the silver medal two years ago in Istanbul, looked remarkably relaxed just before stepping into her block ahead of the sixth and final 60m heat and was blowing kisses to the crowd.
However, as soon as the gun went she had her game face on and sped to the fastest time of the morning in 7.09, quickly into her running just being a little bit slower than she would have liked over the first five metres.
Hailing originally from a country that is football-mad, although she is based for most of the year in the USA, she can reasonably claim to being her country’s greatest ever sportswoman and that position would certainly be enhanced if she were to take the gold medal in Sopot.
However, to do that she will have to beat the double world champion and 2013 World Athlete of the Year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
The Jamaican pocket rocket won her heat in the second-fastest time of the morning, 7.12, despite the rather sedentary reaction time of 0.203.
With the relatively relaxed qualification conditions of the first three in each heat and six non-automatic qualifiers going through to Sunday’s semi-finals, nobody with medal ambitions fell by the wayside at this stage.
The other heat winners were Great Britain’s Asha Philip, Germany’s 2010 European 100m champion Verena Sailer, Nigeria’s Gloria Asumnu and the USA’s Tianna Bartoletta. Sailer and Bartoletta were only fractionally slower than the leading pair, both women clocking 7.13 in winning their races.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF