Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah confirmed she was the sprinter to beat in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, with a strong 100-metre heat run on Tuesday’s opening day of athletics.
A recent world championships bronze medalist in Oregon, the Jamaican progressed to the semifinals in 10.99 seconds when winning the second of seven heats.
The double Olympic gold medalist in the event finished behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in a Jamaican sweep of the 100 in the United States.
Thompson-Herah, the equal-fastest qualifier for the semifinals alongside Nigeria’s Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, is confident she can reclaim her best form in Birmingham.
“You have to believe in yourself because no one else can believe in you,” Thompson-Herah said.
“I wanted to do well this year. It’s not on God’s watch. It is on my watch. Whatever time I put together; I will work my way back up to the top. (My plans) are to have fun, smile, breath, and just run.”
The other Jamaican sprinters – Natalliah Whyte and Remona Burchell – also progressed to the semifinals.
Whyte won her preliminary round heat in 11.31 seconds, the 12th quickest time going into the semifinals while Burchell clocked 11.46 seconds for second place in heat seven, the 20th fastest qualifying time.
Fraser-Pryce is in Birmingham but has opted against competing in the games. She is preparing for the remainder of the season with her coach Reynaldo Walcott, who has other athletes competing in Birmingham.
Meanwhile, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Conroy Jones have progressed to the men’s 100m semifinals while the other Jamaican – Nigel Ellis – crashed out.
Bailey-Cole booked his spot after finishing second in his preliminary round heat. He clocked 10.15 seconds, the 10th fastest qualifying time. Nigerian Raymond Ekevwo won the heat in 10.14.
Jones booked his spot with victory in heat eight of the preliminary round. He clocked 10.28, the 16th fastest qualifying time.
Ellis (10.41) missed out following a third-place finish in heat one.
Sri Lankan sprinter Yupun Abeykoon produced the fastest time in the heat. The fastest athlete in the South Asian region returned a superb time of 10.06 seconds to book his pot in the semifinals.
African record holder Ferdinand Omanyala easily advanced after winning his heat in a time of 10.07 seconds.
Omanyala, who had just returned from a dismal performance at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, breezed by Cameroonian Emmanuel Eseme to win by a comfortable margin with a time of 10.08 seconds, the second-fastest time in the heats.
South African Akani Simbine, the defending champion, also advanced after winning his Heat in 10.10 seconds.
The men’s and women’s 100 semifinals and finals will be on Wednesday at Alexander Stadium.