The women’s 60m Hurdles semifinals were the first track event of this afternoon session with the final scheduled to be tonight’s second to last event.
With four athletes advancing from each race there was no room for mistakes and yet defending champion Lolo Jones of the USA bravely managed to survive a loss of pace which nearly cost her a spot in the final.
Running from lane 4 in the second semi-final Jones looked pretty much unbalanced coming off the blocks and with former Commonwealth Games champion Lacena Golding-Clarke putting together a much more powerful start on her inside, the visual effect of Jones’ struggle was accentuated.
While Jones kept losing her balance step after step and trying to recover a straight pattern with each stride, the race for the heat win was unfolding around her.
Running farthest from Jones in lane 8, former World Indoor champion Perdita Felicien clocked a season’s best 7.94 to take the win, a mere hundredth ahead of former World 100m Hurdles Junior champion Anay Tejeda of Cuba.
Golding-Clarke managed to hold on for third in 8.01 and after a few minutes of photo finish reading Jones was given the nod with 8.04 ahead of European Indoor champion Eline Berings (8.05) and Russian champion Aleksandra Fedoriva (8.06).
After watching the slow motion replay on Jones, one still wanders how she managed to avoid falling so wide was her arm movement and so off-pace was her rhythm between obstacles. But that has to be one of the major characteristics of a true champion, that of never giving up, and all credit goes to Jones.
In the opening race, Canadian champion Priscilla Lopes-Schliep ran a superb race. Coming off a bullet-like start, she put together a technically top quality race and it was evident that despite clocking the fastest time of the day at 7.91 there is still much left in her tank.
Needless to remind that Lopes-Schliep had a massive tumble two years ago in Valencia and a potential win here in Doha would feel all the sweeter.
Jamaica also secured its hurdlers will be in the final as Vonette Dixon ran her fastest of the year at 7.94, securely in second.
US champion Ginnie Powell also faced a near-drama as she was the last qualifier in fourth at 7.99 a full tenth of a second off her season’s best time. Russia’s Tatyana Dektyareva out-dipped Powell from the outside lane to also claim a spot in tonight’s final.
With two Americans, two Jamaicans and two Canadians and Cuba’s Tejeda, the final will look to be a NACAC affair as for the first time since 1997 (when there were only 6 lanes in the straight) Dektyareva will be the sole European representative in a World Indoor 60m Hurdles final.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF