In her first championship appearance since her near fatal accident in 2002, Michelle Freeman of Jamaica produced the quickest performance of the morning with her win in Heat 3. The 36-year-old, who raced to World Indoor gold in 1997 and silver in 2001, cruised to a 7.90 win, just one one-hundredth shy of her season’s best.
“I’m in good shape,” said Freeman, a four-time Jamaican national champion. “It doesn’t matter if I start on a high note or not. I just know that I’ll be there.”
Just behind her in the morning’s fastest heat, Irish record holder Derval O’Rourke was second in 7.93, just off her 7.90 season’s best. Glory Alozie of Spain (8.03) and Cuban Anay Tejeda, who notched a season’s best 8.05, moved on as well.
World leader Lacena Golding-Clarke, a finalist at the last three editions, took Heat 1 in 7.98, just ahead of American hope Danielle Carruthers and Feng Yun of China, who each clocked 8.04. For the 30-year-old Feng, it was a national record, eclipsing the 8.06 mark set by Zhang Yu in 1994.
European Indoor champion Susanna Kallur won the second heat (7.96) with American Damu Cherry (7.97), Adrianna Lamalle of France (8.02), and Poland’s 2003 World Championships finalist Aurelia Trywianska (8.04) moving on as well.
The lone notable non-qualifers was 2004 finalist Nicole Ramalalanirina of France, who also raced to silver in 2001. Maila Paula Machado, sixth in Heat 3, lowered the South American record to 8.08. The previous record of 8.12, was set by Maurren Maggi in 2000.