Briana Williams of Jamaica in action during the heats of the 100m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Getty Images)
Briana Williams might be the youngest entrant in the women's 100m field but the Jamaican prospect, who only turned 16 in March, was the fastest across the five heats on the second morning session of the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018.
The temperatures were noticeably cooler this morning but the conditions were still favourable for the sprinters. Aided by a tailwind of 1.9m/s in the third heat, Williams stopped the clock at 11.28 on her European debut, winning comfortably ahead of Brazil's Lorraine Martins in 11.52.
Williams doesn't progress out of the U20 ranks until 2022 but the Ato Boldon-coached sprinter has still been holding her own against the seniors domestically. Ahead of these championships, Williams was fifth in the senior 100m final at the Jamaican Championships in 11.21 won by Elaine Thompson in 11.01.
Great Britain's Kristal Awuah impressed with an 11.35 lifetime best from the fourth heat and the USA’s Twanisha Terry, who has already broken the 11-second barrier this year, ambled to the third fastest time of the day of 11.37 to progress as a heat winner.
Williams’ teammate Christopher Taylor is another highly regarded prospect in the sprints. Having recently equalled Yohan Blake’s national U20 100m record, Taylor could have contended for a medal in that event but the 18-year-old has stayed faithful to the 400m – the event in which he came to prominence in three years ago with victory at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Taylor was the second fastest across the seven heats with 46.14 behind Barbados’ Jonathan Jones who led the first round with a 46.05 PB.
Van Der Walt and Thomas fastest in hurdles heats
Sydney McLaughlin's decision to shut down her season opens the door for Zeney Van Der Walt in the 400m hurdles as well as the possibility of a South African double in the event with Sokwakhana Zazini highly rated in the men's event.
Van Der Walt might be more than two seconds adrift of McLaughlin's early season record-breaking exploits but the world U18 champion still has a healthy lead on the entry lists with a lifetime best of 55.05 set at the South African Championships in Pretoria.
Van Der Walt eased down to a comfortable heat win in 57.78, finishing more than one second ahead of 2016 European U18 champion Viivi Lehikoinen in 59.10. Lehikoinen is joined in the semifinals by her Finnish teammate Nea Mattila who set a lifetime best of 58.85 in the fifth heat, won by Jamaica's Shiann Salmon in 58.14.
The entry lists also point to a Jamaican one-two in the 110m hurdles and this conviction remained intact after the heats. Damion Thomas will be looking to graduate from the U20 lists with a gold medal in what might possibly be his final competition over the 99cm barriers and he was the fastest across the heats with 13.41.
Teammate Orlando Bennett, who was just 0.01 behind Thomas at the Jamaican U20 Championships, had the luxury of easing across the finish line in 13.65 and still winning comfortably from Germany's Stefan Volzer in 13.74.
Cory Poole, who is attempting a 110m hurdles/400m hurdles double, cruised through the seventh heat in 13.60 behind Spain's Enrique Llopis in 13.74. The leading Spaniard – and fastest non-Jamaican sprinter on paper – is Luis Salort, the winner of heat five in 13.66.
Moloney on course to surpass 8000 points
Overnight leader Ashley Moloney from Australia further embellished his advantage at the top of the decathlon standings after a trio of personal bests. Moloney opened proceedings with 14.13 in the 110m hurdles before adding four metres to his discus lifetime best with 47.39m.
Moloney then equalled his lifetime best of 4.60m in the pole vault to extend his lead out to 451 points ahead of Switzerland's Simon Ehammer and teammate Gary Haasbroek.
Moloney, who currently has 6883 points, has enough of a buffer to compensate for any shortcomings in the javelin (his lifetime best stands at a modest 48.03m) but the bigger concern is the leader's well-being. Moloney was walking gingerly after his first-time clearance at 4.60m and didn't vault again.
Following an up-and-down first day, Stepan Kekin is making a late charge for a medal. After lifetime bests in the 110m hurdles and discus, the world U20 leader is currently fourth overall and is strong in the final two events.
Wilson leads shot put qualifying
The two principal contenders for the shot put title made it safely through to the final albeit on their second attempts. After 15.42m with her first throw – which would have proved sufficient on distance – Alyssa Wilson handsomely surpassed the automatic qualifying distance of 15.50m with her second throw of 17.02m while Jorinde Van Klinken from the Netherlands progressed from the second pool with 16.01m.
The second youngest entrant in the hammer, Myhaylo Kokhan from Ukraine, was the first athlete to qualify automatically for the final, reaching out to 74.15m with his opening throw.
Kokhan, 17, has been dividing his attention between the 5kg and 6kg implement this year and he arrives fresh from winning the European U18 Championships in Gyor on Saturday when he eclipsed Bence Halasz's world U18 best with 87.82m – the longest throw ever recorded across all implements.
Britain’s Jake Norris surpassed the automatic qualifying mark with his second attempt of 76.95m but one notable casualty from the first pool was Cuba's Miguel Zamora, third on the world U20 lists, who didn't record a valid throw.
But an even bigger shock came in the second qualifying pool as Greece's Christos Frantzeskakis, who leads the world U20 lists with 81.32m, also exited the competition without a valid mark to his name. Nobody reached the automatic distance of 74.00m in group B, which was led by Ukraine's Mykhailo Havryluk with his opening throw of 73.71m.
Steven Mills for the IAAF