Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown was the major casualty of the first-round heats as the Jamaican’s bid for a third title was to end abruptly.
Campbell-Brown never threatened a top-two spot in the ninth and final heat, and after crossing the line third – having also clearly drifted from lane six into the neighbouring lane seven down the home stretch – in 22.97, this was not sufficient to advance on time.
The heat win was taken by world U20 200m champion Edidong Odiong, who clipped 0.10 from her Bahraini U20 record to run 22.74, 0.04 clear of the other automatic qualifier Semoy Hackett of Trinidad and Tobago.
It was a rather more straight-forward qualification process for the other marquee names, all of whom breezed into the semi-finals in an event dripping with an impressive depth of quality.
World champion Dafne Schippers began her quest for Olympic gold in comfortable style as the ‘Flying Dutchwoman’ produced a controlled heat one win in a slick 22.51. Joining her automatically in the next round was Natalia Pohrebniak of Ukraine, who chopped a healthy 0.11 from her lifetime best to clock 22.64. Also benefiting from the warmer conditions today inside the Olympic Stadium was Crystal Emmanuel of Canada, who took a welcome 0.09 from her lifetime best to run 22.80 for third.
The USA’S Jenna Prandini was an impressive winner of heat two. Running from the tight inside lane one was no difficulty for the emerging talent as she flashed past the line in 22.62, 0.24 clear of German Lisa Mayer, who also advanced by chipping 0.01 from her PB.
Fresh from her sixth-place finish in the 100m final on Saturday, Trinidad and Tobago record-holder Michelle-Lee Ahye was a comfortable winner of heat three in 22.50. Experienced Jamaican Simone Facey, a 2009 world 200m finalist, also qualified for the next stanza, placing second in 22.78.
In a high-class heat four, Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the fourth-place finisher in the Olympic 100m final, served notice of her 200m potential by wiping 0.25 from her lifetime best to win in 22.31 to head the qualifiers for the semi-finals.
The Ivorian also claimed the scalp of recently minted Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who was satisfied to claim the second automatic spot in 22.63. Both should be a big factor deeper into the competition.
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare cruised into the semi-finals with a heat-two win in 22.71. The 2013 world 200m bronze medallist looked comfortable as she headed European champion Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain by 0.06, who also takes her place in the semi-final.
Deajah Stevens has been a new US sprint name to emerge this year and the 21-year-old was a hugely impressive victor in heat six, storming to victory in 22.45 to put her hat in the ring as a potential contender. Venezuela’s Nercely Soto grabbed the second automatic spot in a season’s best of 22.89.
In a competitive heat seven, Ivet Lalova-Collio, 32, the 2004 Olympic 200m fourth-place finisher, showed age has not blunted the Bulgarian’s edge to grab a narrow 0.05 victory in 22.61 from Australia’s Ella Nelson. Also qualifying on time to the semi-finals was Great Britain’s 2014 European 200m silver medallist Jodie Williams (22.69).
The big two in heat eight – Tori Bowie and Murielle Ahoure – both cruised into the next round with a comfortable qualification. Ahoure, the 2013 world silver medallist, controlled the race for the first 170 metres until Bowie, the Olympic 100m silver medallist, finished strongly to take the heat win from the Ivorian by 0.05 in 22.47.
Steve Landells for the IAAF