Tia Jones in the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
Tia Jones finished second at the US Junior Championships last month but the 15-year-old, who has already clocked 12.84 in the 100m hurdles and still has three full seasons left in the junior ranks, was the fastest qualifier across the six heats, the key highlight as the fourth day of competition at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 got underway on Friday (22).
Jones clocked 13.04 to lead the round ahead of teammate and domestic champion Alexis Duncan (13.11) and European junior champion Elvira Herman (13.13) from Belarus.
Despite being ranked fourth on the world all-time U20 lists, Jones isn’t the fastest entrant in Bydgoszcz. That accolade belongs to the US-based Nigerian Tobi Amusan, who finished second at the NCAA Championships last month.
Amusan was another heat winner this morning, easing across the finish line in 13.26 to win by more than four tenths. With two of the four fastest U20 athletes of all-time in the field - and the conditions set to remain favourable - the championship record of 12.89 looks due for revision this week.
Another noteworthy qualifier was Katerina Dvorakova - the daughter of former world decathlon record-holder Tomas Dvorak- but world youth champion Maribel Caicedo was disqualified after crossing the finish line in a qualifying spot.
The qualifying conditions in the women’s 200m were relatively soft with the top four from each heat automatically moving on to the semifinals but Bahrain’s Edidiong Ofonime Odiong took advantage of a warm morning - and a 1.9 m/s tailwind - to lead the heats with 23.06 ahead of Sada Williams from Barbados, who eased through with 23.38.
Williams leads the world U20 season’s lists with 22.61 and will be looking to become the first athlete from her country - male or female - to win a track medal at these championships.
Favourites qualify in the middle distances
All of the principal contenders comfortably qualified for the men’s 800m semifinals. Heat winners included world youth champion Willy Tarbei (1:48.95), Kenyan junior champion Kipyegon Bett (1:50.82), world indoor finalist Mostafa Smaili (1:49.82) from Morocco and Riadh Chninni from Tunisia, who was the fastest across the five heats with 1:48.40.
The qualifying conditions were decidedly tougher in the women’s 1500m although the qualifying prospects of the athletes in the first heat were raised considerably with 3000m bronze medallist Konstanze Klosterhalfen from Germany - a 4:06.91 performer - a late scratch.
With a 62-second last lap, Ethiopia’s Adanech Anbesa won the first heat in 4:15.53 ahead of Kenya’s Joyline Cherotich (4:16.41) and Rwanda’s Beatha Nishimwe (4:17.85) while Winfred Mbithe won the second heat in 4:12.39 ahead of United States’ Alexa Efraimson (4:13.12) and Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku (4:13.84).
Chopra shows form to lead javelin qualifying
Neeraj Chopra has been in indifferent form since setting an Asian U20 javelin record of 82.23m in February but the Indian led the two qualifying pools with 78.20m ahead of Grenada’s Anderson Peters (76.20m) and Hungary’s Mark Xaver Schmolcz (74.80m).
Not only is the final shaping up to be one of the highest quality of the championships with 14 athletes surpassing the automatic qualifying mark of 72.50m, the event is perhaps the most diverse on the programme with throwers from 13 countries making it through to the final.
Some of the top-ranked women’s triple jumpers struggled to reach the automatic qualifying distance of 13.20m but China’s Ting Chen led the two pools with a 13.77m lifetime best.
World U20 leader Davisleidis Velazco (13.14m) of Cuba and world youth champion Georgiana-Iuliana Anitei (13.10m) of Romania also qualified.
With just four jumpers eliminated, qualifying was a formality for the leading women’s high jumpers. All of the top names made it through, including world youth champion Michaela Hruba and Yuliya Levchenko from Ukraine, who leads the entry-lists with 1.95m.
Cuban Adriana Rodriguez produced a season’s best of 5.96m in the long jump to maintain her lead in the heptathlon with 4528 points ahead of Austria’s Sarah Lagger (4344) and Belgium’s Hanne Maudens (4325) who produced a standout 6.34m in the fifth event to move from eighth to third.
Steven Mills for the IAAF