Asafa Powell of Jamaica

PORTLAND – Asafa Powell clocked a stunning 6.44 seconds to set the pace in the men’s 60m heats at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships at Portland 2016 on Friday.

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The Jamaican who came into the championships as the fastest entrant, but the third fastest over the short sprint event for 2016, sounded the biggest of warnings to his rivals after he flashed to a new world-leading, personal best and national record mark in the qualifying round.

Powell had been in very good form leading up to these championships and his performance on Friday certainly puts him in pole position to strike gold.

With his time in the heats, the former 100m world record holder, who blasted from the blocks to surge into the lead and then eased down before crossing the finishing line, moves up to fifth place on the all-time list for the 60m.

“I came here to run fast,” Powell warns. “I am happy with my start.

“I lost it for a few years but I have been working on it,” he added.

Zhenye Xie of China clocked the second fastest time of the heats, posting a new personal best of 6.55 seconds when following Powell home in the fifth heat.

St. Kitts and Nevis sprinter Kim Collins, the silver medallist at the 2003 and 2008 world indoor championships, posted the third quickest time of the first round with an easy 6.56 when winning the first heat.

Americans Marvin Bracy, the 2014 world indoor silver medallist, 2010 world indoor runner-up Mike Rodgers and 2015 world outdoor championships bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell all won their respective heats with an identical time of 6.57.

The semi-finals for the 60m dash is also on Friday during the second session.

Meanwhile, in the women’s 400m dash, Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain clocked the fastest time in the woman 400m heats, after winning the first heat in 52.27.

Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson used a late surge to grab second behind Adekoya — blowing past Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo to finish second with a time of 52.56 and secured an automatic qualifying spot.

Mupopo was third in a new national record of 52.72 and she also made it through as one of the fastest losers — having clocked the third fastest time overall.

USA’s Ashley Spencer won heat two in 52.96, while US champion Quanera Hayes also made the semis with a time of 52.98 when winning heat four.

On the men’s side Abdalelah Haroun used a lot of energy to run 46.15 to win his heat in the fastest time of the qualifying round, while world-leader Bralon Taplin of Grenada won his heat in 46.24 and Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore ran 46.38 when taking his heat.

His fellow T&T countryman, Lalonde Gordon, took his heat as well in 46.72

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