No woman for 22 years has completed the 100m/200m sprint double at a World Championships but Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce remains on track to achieve that feat after easing, almost effortlessly, through her first round heats.
Of course, the diminutive Jamaican faces a huge challenge to achieve that goal – especially with the likes of three-time former champion Allyson Felix and World 100m silver medallist Murielle Ahoure lying in wait – but the 26-year-old would have been further encouraged by a super smooth-looking performance ahead of this evening's semi-finals.
The top three plus the next three fastest progressed across the top seven heats which allowed little margin for error for the sprinters.
In the opening heat, the surprise US champion Kimberlyn Duncan stretched her legs to take victory with the minimum of fuss. Duncan’s 22.84 comfortably held off the challenge of her nearest pursuer Johanna Danois of France by 0.16, although we might discover more about Duncan's podium potential after the semi-finals. Finland's World University Games silver medallist Hanna-Maari Latvala took the third and final automatic spot in 23.07.
Blessing Okagbare has already had a hectic schedule here in Moscow, winning Long Jump silver and finishing sixth in the 100m. Yet the heat-two winner from Nigeria in 22.79 revealed sufficient class to suggest she could also be a factor in this event too. The muscular Okagbare was 0.04 better than ChaRonda Williams of the USA with World University Games champion Kimberly Hyacinthe third in 23.19.
Shaunae Miller, the teenage Bahamian, has caught the eye this season with some top-class performances and she further demonstrated her exciting potential with an impressive heat-three win. The tall languid former World junior 400m champion established control from the gun and powered down the home stretch to stop the clock in 22.72.
There was disappointment behind for Crystal Emmanuel of Canada. She crossed the line second, but was disqualified for a lane infringement with Jamaica's Patricia Hall (23.25) upgraded to second.
The travelling Ukrainian supporters – decked out in blue and yellow t-shirts – in two sections of the Luzhniki Stadium came to life prior to heat four. Creating a football-style fervour and repeatedly chanting the name of Elyzaveta Bryzgina, the 2010 European 200m silver medallist, she gave them plenty to shout about by placing second in 22.84 – 0.06 down on Fraser-Pryce.
Ukrainian Mariya Ryemyen then further helped lift the atmosphere in the stadium by powering to victory in heat five. After crossing the line in 22.63 the 26-year-old let out a wide smile of acknowledgement to the fans. A further 0.03 back was the fast-finishing World junior champion Anthonique Strachan of Bahamas, who grabbed second.
Felix sent a gentle reminder to her rivals she is in the mood to collect a fourth world 200m title, qualifying fastest for this evening's semi-finals with a 22.59 time in heat six. The US athlete who has eight World gold medals started with purpose before turning off the throttle with 70m to go and cruising home 0.19 clear of Jamaica's Anneisha McLoughlin. The 2010 European champion Myriam Soumare of France was third in 22.83.
The final heat witnessed a routine victory for Ahoure in 22.66. The Ivorian athlete created history in the women's 100m final on Monday by winning her continent’s maiden World Championships medal and on the evidence of this a second medal is not out of the question.
To the delight of the passionate Ukrainian fans, Hrystyna Stuy ensured they would have a full complement of three athletes to support in the semi-finals. The European 200m silver medallist finished 0.20 behind Ahoure with Jeneba Tarmoh of the USA third in 22.88.
Steve Landells for the IAAF