There were no major surprises on Friday morning as all the favourites progressed safely through the preliminary rounds of their respective events on day three of the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017.
A total of 14 sprinters set personal bests in the opening round of the boys’ 200m, led by France’s Paul Tritenne who won the fourth heat in 21.08.
After grabbing gold and silver in the 100m final on Wednesday, the South African duo of Tshenolo Lemao (21.27) and Retshidisitswe Mlenga (21.31) also made it through without any problems to Saturday’s penultimate round.
In the heats of the girls’ 200m, Lorraine Martins of Brazil made a statement after missing out on a 100m medal the night before, clocking the fastest time of 23.90.
The gold and silver medallists in the short sprint – Turkey’s Mizgin Ay (24.22) and Poland’s Magdalena Stefanowicz (24.33) – also booked their places in Saturday’s semifinals.
Jamaica’s 15-year-old prodigy Kevona Davis, the only U18 athlete to have run under 23 seconds this season, did not start after picking up a hamstring injury in her bronze medal performance the previous evening.
As expected, the east African contingent dominated the boys’ 2000m steeplechase heats, with world U18 leader Leonard Bett of Kenya progressing as the fastest qualifier for Sunday’s final.
Bett won the second heat in 5:46.66 ahead of Ethiopia’s Girma Diriba (5:47.86), with the two nations swapping positions after Ethiopia’s Alemu Kitessa had won the first race in 5:49.79 ahead of Kenya’s Cleophas Meyan (5:51.83).
Title favourite Claudio Romero was second best in the boys’ discus throw qualifiers, launching a 59.08m heave as one of two athletes to achieve the automatic standard of 59.00m. The other was Oleksiy Kyrylin of Ukraine who produced the best attempt of the opening round with a 60.30m effort. The final will be contested on Saturday.
In the girls’ triple jump qualifiers, Tan Qiujiao of China added 41 centimetres to her personal best, producing a 13.16m leap as she led the way into Saturday’s final.
The other four athletes to have jumped beyond 13 metres this year – Cuba’s Zulia Hernandez (12.92m), Slovenia’s Eva Pepelnak (12.73m), Romania’s Diana Ion (12.55m) and China’s Youqi Pan (12.50m) – all progressed safely through to the medal contest, so too did Gloria Mulei, becoming the first Kenyan female to reach the final of a jumps event at a global championships.