Ivana Spanovic led the qualifiers on Thursday morning with a Serbian outdoor record of 6.91m but the principal talking point was the redemption of Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson after her meltdown in the heptathlon long jump when she was vying for a medal.
Spanovic, the European indoor champion, flew out to her new standard – although she has jumped 6.98m indoors – in the first round of the group A qualifiers to make it a short day’s work, a quick qualification and big confidence boost ahead of Friday night’s final.
Johnson-Thompson showed her competitive mettle to bounce back from the disappointment of the heptathlon and reached 6.79m with her second jump in the first pool to eventually become one of six women to go beyond the automatic qualifying standard of 6.75m.
“I wanted to come out and put everything that was wrong right again," Johnson-Thompson told the British media in the Bird’s Nest stadium.
“I was nervous. I was just thinking it (three fouls) was going to happen again," she admitted, although she was able to steady her nerves by registering a valid first-round jump of 6.54m.
Johnson-Thompson will be one of three British athletes in the women’s long jump final.
Lorraine Ugen, who has developed into a force to be reckoned with in the event this year, made heavy weather of qualifying in group B but after leaps of 6.29m and 6.61m, she secured her place in the final with a big last-round jump of 6.87m, the second-best jump of the morning after Spanovic.
Completing the trio, Shara Proctor, sixth at both the 2009 and 2013 World Championships, went through as the 11th best with 6.68m. Having jumped a British record of 6.98m in London last month, Proctor will be hoping to do better in the final.
She was not the only well-known jumper to struggle.
USA’s world leader Tianna Bartoletta, the only woman over seven metres this year with a best of 7.12m, is also clearly not a morning person but got through as a non-automatic qualifier after two jumps of 6.71m.
Russia’s two-time European indoor champion Darya Klishina was in a similar position, following up her opening 6.71m jump with two fouls but eventually progressing.
However, there was tragedy for three-time defending champion Brittney Reese, who has struggled with a variety of aches and pains in the past 18 months, including hip and back injuries.
The US jumper had three modest jumps with a best of 6.39m and failed to make the final.
Russia’s Yelena Sokolova, who took the silver medal behind Reese at the 2012 Olympics, also failed to make the cut with just 6.44m, although she has not been at her best this year, coming back to action after becoming a mother last year.
Another notable non-qualifier was Germany’s Sosthene Moguenara, who has jumped 6.94m this year but failed to go any farther than 6.23m on Thursday.
Volha Sudarova from Belarus finished 13th with 6.65m which is the best ever distance not to make the final at the IAAF World Championships.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF