RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opened her quest to become the first woman to win three successive Olympic 100m titles with an impressive 10.96 seconds in the heats at Rio 2016 on Friday’s opening day of track and field competition.
The two-time defending champion, who was bothered by a toe injury for most of this season, seems to have recovered fully from the problem, as she showed no signs of discomfort in her 100m heat during the evening session on Day 1 on Friday night.
Fraser-Pryce, who ran from lane 8 in the fourth heat, was the only sub-10 seconds performer in the heats, as the Jamaican led two other of her countrywomen into the semi-final.
World 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson, running her first race since a hamstring problem at the Jamaica Trials, expectedly looked a bit rusty, but the Jamaican champion comfortably booked her place into the semis with a time of 11.21 when winning heat 7.
The other Jamaican sprinter Christania Williams, who also trains with Fraser-Pryce and Thompson at the MVP Track Club, finished second in the sixth heat in 11.27 behind Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago who easily took that section in 11.00.
European champion Dafne Schippers shook-off a slow start to win heat two of the women 100m in 11.16 seconds, while Americans English Gardner (11.09), Torie Bowie (11.13) and Tianna Bartoletta (11.23) were all heat winners.
Great Britain’s Desiree Henry was also impressive when winning the first heat in 11.08, while Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast ran 11.01 when finishing second to Fraser-Pryce in her heat.
The semi-final and final of the women’s 100m will be on Saturday.
TOP QUARTER-MILERS MOVED ON FROM HEATS
Also on the track, defending Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada, American world leader LaShawn Merritt and world champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa all moved on in the men’s 400m.
James opened his one-lap title defence with a 44.93 seconds performance to win the sixth heat and was one of two runners to break the 45-secs barrier in the heat.
Former world junior champion, Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago took his heat in 44.98.
Meanwhile, Merritt easily took his heat in 45.28, with van Niekerk winning his section in a very relaxed 45.26.
Elsewhere, Ali Khamis Khamis of Bahrain ran 45.13 to win his heat, Bralon Taplin of Grenada advanced with a 45.25 clocking, while 19-year-old Baboloki Thebe of Botswana also made it through with a 45.41 clocking.
CARTER SMASHES ADAMS’ DREAMS
In action in the field, American Michelle Carter produced a stunning effort of 20.63m in the sixth round of the women’s Shot Put to break the heart of two-time defending champion Valerie Adams to win the gold medal.
Carter’s winning mark also smashed Adams’ quest to become the first woman in history to win three straight Olympic individual athletics titles
The New Zealand thrower led the competition from the opening round and looked well on course to lift a third Olympic Games crown with she produced a season’s best of 20.42m in round two.
However, Carter, watch in the stands by her father Michael, who won an Olympic silver medal in the same event at the 1984 Games, heaved a massive 20.63m in the final round to improve her own personal best and American record by 39cm.
Anita Marton of Hungary won the bronze medal with a national record effort of 19.87m.
Elsewhere on Day 1 of track and field action, defending champion Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain went to bed as the overnight leader in the women’s heptathlon after tallying 4057 points from her first four events of the competition.
Her fellow countrywoman Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished Day 1 in fourth place with 3957pts, but is expected to get back into the medal places before the end of competition.