Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States leads her heat in the Women's 400 Metres first round - Day One WIC Istanbul (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Sanya Richards

EVENT REPORT - Women's 400 Metres - Heats

Sanya RichardsRoss was on cruise control when she shook out the morning rust in these Championships first event on the track.

The 2009 World champion, who is competing indoors in her specialty for the first time since 2006, certainly carried herself like the weekend’s favourite for gold in the third of six opening round heats where she won by a proverbial country mile in 52.81. And that was after putting on the breaks at the top of the homestretch.

“I’m feeling great and I just want to get ready for the semi-finals,” said Ross, whose career best 50.71 from the U.S. national championships in Albuquerque late last month paces the world.

The U.S. outdoor record holder was actually the second fastest on the morning. Nataliya Pyhyda of Ukraine produced a season’s best 52.02 to win the second heat, ahead of Jamaican Patricia Hall, one of this season’s indoor breakout performers.

“We have three rounds in three days so it doesn’t make sense to kill yourself in the first race,” said Hall, who has a very safe second to the Ukrainian in 52.99.

No surprises emerged in the opening round, with Aliann Pompey’s 54.63 in heat five enough to move on to tonight’s semi-finals.

Czech Denisa Rosolova (52.95) won the first heat in a close contest with Bulgarian Vania Stambolova (52.97), Russian Alexsandra Fedoriva won heat four in 53.26, while American Natasha Hastings heat five in 53.64. Briton Shana Cox took the final heat in 53.24.

While she didn't move on, Vladislava Ovcharenko will leave Istanbul as the national record hold of Tajikistan after her 1:00.33 run in heat five.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF