Lille, FranceJacko Gill, the most odds on favourite to lift a gold medal at the 7th IAAF World Youth Championships, promptly showed the reason why when the second day's programme got underway in Lille on Wednesday morning (7).
The big New Zealander, despite nursing a minor finger injury, with his very first attempt lofted the five kilogram shot put well past the qualifying mark of 19.20m when reaching out to 20.75m.
That was the best effort from last summer's World Junior champion and current world leader although Braheme Days of the USA also made easy work to progress when also in the first round throwing 20.06m.
"It was easy to get the qualification," said the Kiwi, now eyeing his World Youth best performance of 23.86m which he set in December last year. "In the final I want to put the shot over 24 metres and win the gold medal."
His and Days' group also saw three athletes Poland's Patryk Ocypa (19.84m), Hezekiel Romeo of Trinidad (19.68m, PB) and world No. 2 Aleksey Chizhelikov from Russia (19.42m) qualify by right for tonight's final.
The other qualifying competition was less competitive with the USA's Tyler Schultz making into the final by right throwing 19.70m as did Russian Vladyslav Chernikov who moved on with his final effort of 19.32m.
Hailey flies to world lead in 400 hurdles semi
Nnenya Hailey, with an almost flawless performance, went to the top of the World 400m Hurdles rankings when clocking a time of 58.44 to qualify for Saturday's final.
The American, replacing the absent Nigerian Ann Nwaogu as world leader by 0.07, had hit the front by 200 metres and then relentlessly poured on the pressure.
Although stuttering slightly coming off the final bend, she was never pressured. Behind her Great Britain's Hayley McLean joined her in the final by right with a PB 58.74 while Aya Takizawa of Japan went through as a fastest loser with her lifetime best of 59.18.
"It's wonderful, I'm so happy but very tired," said Hailey. "It's a little surprise but the final will be another race."
Sudan's Tasabih Mohammed El Sayed, dipping on the line, also ran the fastest time of her career 59.64, which saw her make the final after early leader Sarah Carli who looked a certainty for victory tied up in the final 30 metros.
The Australian however held on for second in 59.67 while Katsiaryna Verameyenka from Belarusia just 0.30 behind went through as a fastest loser.
Earlier Sage Watson, although tiring down the home straight and colliding with the final hurdle, recovered to win the first semi in 59.98. The Canadian along with Surian Hechavarria of Cuba, Japan's Minori Tanaki and South African Izelle Neuhoff had broken clear after 200 metres and Watson took charge of the race on the final bend.
But as she began struggling with her stride pattern the three rivals fighting for the remaining automatic qualifying slot began closing her down and it was a close battle at the line.
Hechavarria in a very tight finish clinched runner up by just 0.01 clocking 1:00.18 ahead of Minori Tanaka with Nuehoff fourth in 1:00.37.
Dirirsa geared up to break Kenya's 1500 dominance
Teshome Dirirsa's gun-to-tape victory in his heat suggested that just as Gotytom Gebreslase victory in the 3000m, he could be on his his way to becoming the first Ethiopian to win the 1500m gold medal.
Dirirsa, ignoring the opposition and running his own race, roared through the opening 400 and 800 in his qualifier in impressive times of 58.51 and 1:57.45. His uninhibited performance saw him at one stage around 30 metros ahead of his opponents who not surprisingly didn't wish to wreck their chances of qualifications by going off too quickly.
Dirirsa eventually did slow but not too much, crossing the line in 3:45.32. The self confidence he displayed signified he can beat his arch-Kenyan rivals who previously have won five of the six gold medals at the Championships.
However Jonathan Sawe and Vincent Mutai will be no pushovers in Saturday's final. Their 800m splits of 2:05.52 and 2:02.36 may have been five seconds slower but in both races the finishing pace was much faster.
Sawe when getting into full stride clocked 3:48.35 while Mutai, who ranks fifth in the world list two behind his teammate, led from start to finish in his heat en route to a 3:47.66 run.
Kenyans and Ethiopians prove best in 3000m heats
In the first of two heats, Patrick Mwikya along with Solomon Deksisa and Mohammed Abid effortlessly qualified for Sunday’s 3000m final when breaking clear from three pursuing rivals just after the first kilometre (2:40.59), they were content just to watch another until the final 100 metres.
Then the trio, with Kenya's Mwikya who had led almost from the start at the front, needlessly decided to test their sprinting speed down the final straight, the first time they stretched their legs during the seven-and-a-half lap encounter.
Mwikya won the duel in exactly 8:00.00 with Deksisa, normally used to competing at altitude in his native Ethiopia and now down at sea level, posting a PB of 8:00.11 with Morocco's Abid third in 8:01.52.
Indrajeet Patel in fourth position also qualified by right, the 17-year-old Indian lowering his lifetime best by 0.09 to 8:14.93.
The second heat followed in a similar pattern where after the first kilometre (2:37.97)the Africans William Sitonik, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Abra Osman had spread-eagled the field.
Adem from Eritrea with three laps remaining fell off the pace but in the home straight just before the bell regained contact - but only until the final 200 metres.
There Kenya's Sitonik, the world leader (7:51.2), and Gebrehiwet, yet to have competed in a electronically timed race over the distance, became engaged in a personal sprint.
They were neck-and-neck at the finish line, indeed Sitonik got the verdict but they shared the same quick time of 7:54.09 which suggests Kenyan Isiah Koech's two-year-old championship record of 7:51.51 could be threatened in the final.
Adem, in third position and also without a electronic timing before coming to Lille, clocked 7:58.00 for third with Uganda's Phillip Kipyeko taking the remaining automatic place in the final behind him lowering his PB by over four seconds to 8:14.02.
Stein continues to shine in Octathlon
Jake Stein continued to lead in the Octathlon although Fredrick Ekholm with the second best High Jump clearance of the day reduced the Australian's lead to 186 points after six events.
Stein the overnight leader and in the opening event of the morning session the 110 hurdles, clocked 14.25, the second fastest of the contest which saw him hold a lead of 241 points with a 4238 tally from Ekholm who rose from seventh to second with his time of 14.34.
Sweden's Ekholm replaced Russia's Evegeniy Likhanov who was well below his best and saw his hurdles time of 15.98 relegate him to seventh position.
After that fifth discipline Jan Schenk from Germany (3968) remained third but when the High Jump got underway the German was a non-starter which opened up the race for bronze medal position.
While Stein of Australia cleared 1.98m to consolidate his lead with a tally of 5023 points ahead of Ekholm (4837). Likhanov returned to third spot thanks to a 1.92m clearance.
Parnov looking to follow in sister’s Pole Vault footsteps
Australia's Liz Parnov has a massive incentive - and along with that equivalent pressure - to win the Pole Vault title which would emulate the feat of her sister Vicky four years ago.
The elder Parnov on that occasion in the Czech city of Ostrava also posted a Championship record of 4.35m which might also be a target for the latest Aussie star. Certainly Parnov made the perfect start to her gold medal campaign when leading the list of qualifiers for Saturday's final when making the best clearance in the qualifying round of 3.90m.
But that performance was achieved before the number of eliminations made it unnecessary for her rivals to chase what was the automatic qualifying height and progressed with their vaults of 3.85m.
They included Germany's world No. 1 Desiree Singh, Roberta Bruni of Italy, Alissa Soderberg from Sweden and the Greek Yeoryia Stefanidi who all rank ahead of Parnov this year.
But the 17-year-old, apart from a personal challenge, also knows her best ever vault of 4.40m is 16 centimeters higher than Singh, the nearest contender, has ever achieved.
Pasztor shows his credentials in Hammer but Baltaci confident
Bence Pasztor, who recorded the world's best ever hammer throw by a Youth of 83.92m in Veszprem on 11 June, quickly qualified for tomorrow's final with the furthest qualifying performance.
The 16-year-old Hungarian with a breezy wind blowing in the Lille Metropole stadium winged the 5kg ball out to a distance of 79.36m well in excess of the required 70 meter qualifier.
That was a feat achieved by eight of his rivals for the gold medal the most notable being Turkey's Ozkan Baltaci who lies behind him the world rankings.
Baltaci who threw 76.32m, said: "It's difficult to be favourite for this competition. I need to train four hours a day to realize this performance. So today, I'm very happy. But I'm in a final and now the gold medal is for me - I'm sure."
Girls 800m - Wang raise eyebrows as Gereziher and Kimaswai show potential
China's Chunyu Wang raised the eyebrows of her rivals when romping to the fastest time of the day and a personal best 2:06.19 when the 800 heats got underway.
The very tall 16-year-old dominated her heat - which included world leader Amy Weissenbach of the USA - as she sped through the first lap with a five metres lead in 62.59.
Wang, looking very comfortable, never tied up while behind her Miho Nakata and Weissenbach battled for second place which the Japanese claimed by 0.27 in 2:07.72.
"I'm very glad to get the first place in this heat," said Wang who moved to 10th in the 2011 World Rankings. "I think I can do better and I will go on fighting in the following races."
Great Britain's Jessica Judd, the World No. 2 behind Weissenbach, also had a testing two laps where Alem Gereziher with a confident display also indicated her medal potential.
Judd led at the bell before the tiny Ethiopian took charge of the race and held her off down the finish straight to win by 0.63 in a PB 2:06.72.
Agatha Kimaswai from Kenya also displayed medal potential when, hardly out of breath, she clinched her heat in a PB 2:07.08.
Ajee Wilson, who beat Weissenbach at the US trials, had an easy passage. In the slowest race of the morning last summer's World Junior finalist progressed with a time of 2:14.07.
South African's world top two progress in 110 hurdles
The World's top two ranked 110m hurdlers Andries Van Der Merwe and Tiann Smit made light work of progressing into the semi finals when coasting through their heats in 13.78 and 14.06.
There was also an athoritive performance from French No. 1 and world No. 3 Wilhem Belocian who posted the fastest time of the qualifiers with an easy looking mark of 13.70.
Italy's Lorenzo Perini behind him in the global rankings had the toughest encounter when in a photo-finish he got the verdict in the same time of 13.71 as New Zealand's Joshua Hawkins who set a PB.
David Martin for the IAAF
- New Zealand's Jacko Gill surprises in the shot with a world age-15 best, a national junior record, and a gold medal (Getty Images) © Copyright