Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica reacts after competing in the Women's 100m Hurdles heat on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
But nothing can be taken for granted in any hurdle race and as it turned out all the candidates for the title ran to the line to automatic qualify, with the sole exception of 2009 World champion and the second fastest performer in the world this year Brigitte Foster-Hylton whose mistake when clipping hurdle number five left her unable to sustain her rhythm. She finished a dramatic seventh in the sixth and final heat; her fourth Olympic Games coming to a premature end.
The heat win went to the US Olympic Trials third placer Lolo Jones who clocked a season’s best 12.68 ahead of Phylicia George of Canada and Italy’s Marzia Caravelli, the other two qualifiers from that race.
Jones, who turned 30 years of age yesterday, knows all too well what it feels to have one’s Olympic dreams crashed as she too experienced drama in the Beijing Olympic final four years ago.
Jones said: "I’m heartbroken for Brigitte. I’m devastated for her. Honestly the emotions were out for her. If she had punched me I would have understood."
Jones’ was the second fastest heat winner this morning but the American confided: "I’m going to do my best and fight for gold but I don’t ever bet on the hurdles."
The fastest hurdler this morning was, as expected one is tempted to say, World champion and world leader Sally Pearson who stole the limelight in heat five as she sped to the finish line in 12.57 almost half a second ahead of runner up Reina-Flor Okori of France (13.01) and Carolin Nytra of Germany (13.30).
Pearson, the Commonwealth, World Indoor and outdoor champion, looked impressive this morning and recovered that little bit of extra confidence she may have lost when beaten by Kellie Wells at the London Diamond League meeting, her last race before the Olympics.
"I was nervous about this race," she confided. "There’s no more work to do, this is it. I’m through to the semi-final, I want to get it done and dusted."
US Trials runner-up Wells was also an impressive heat winner her 12.69 the third fastest of the day. The Florida-based 30-year-old who failed to cross the finish line at the Daegu World Championships last year was challenged by Russia’s Tatyana Dektyareva and Lucie Skrobakova, the Czech record holder out-dipping the fast finishing pair of Cindy Roleder and Shermaine Williams who would both also advance by time.
Defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper may not have taken her heat win this morning but her aggressive first half of the race suggested there is more to come from the athlete coached by Bobby Kersee.
"I reacted really good but then I eased up a little too much," confirmed Harper. "It means the world to me to come back four years later."
It was two-time European champion Nevin Yanit who closed well to secure first place in 12.70 ahead of Harper (12.75) and Ekaterina Galitskaya in 12.89. In fourth former World Indoor champion Derval O’Rourke was the best of the rest her 12.91 the fastest non automatic qualifier. Nikkita Holder in fifth also advanced with 12.93.
"I am very happy because everything was good," said Yanit. "I had a good sprint at the end of the race. Now I want to win a medal: gold, silver, bronze – any medal."
Daegu finalist and local favourite Tiffany Porter had to work a little harder as she only finished third in her heat (12.79) after leading for most of the race. Fast finishing Alina Talay of Belarus, the World Indoor bronze medallist in Istanbul was the first across the line in a PB 12.71 ahead of Jessica Zelinska (12.75) who ensured there would be three Canadians in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Competing earlier in the London Games, Zelinska finished seventh in the Heptathlon in which she had opened with a 12.65 100m Hurdles personal best.
The winner of the women’s Heptathlon, London 2012 "Poster girl" Jessica Ennis who had clocked a superb 12.54 British record on Friday was scheduled to compete in heat two this morning but as she had previously announced she did not compete in the individual event, where she would have been a favourite too!
With Jamaica’s Latoya Greaves also not starting, the second heat proved to be extremely weak and left Beate Schrott with an easy win at 13.09. In second and third Eline Berings and Ivanique Kemp also took advantage as they advanced with low key 13.46 and 13.51 respectively.
The last qualifying spot was awarded to the third Russian Yuliya Kondakova whose 13.10 for fourth in heat six was matched by Marina Tomic in heat one but the Slovenian did not make the cut as she finished fifth in her race.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF