Less than two months ago, it looked as though there would be a run-away winner of the World 100m Hurdles title. After this evening’s semi-finals, it’s looking a lot closer.
Back in June, Brianna Rollins broke the US record with a scintillating 12.26 run at the US Championships. Little more than a week later, defending World champion Sally Pearson began an uncharacteristic four-meet losing streak.
But what a difference a few weeks can make, and now the pair are a lot closer matched – as evidenced in the semi-finals.
Neither of the two big contenders were in the first of the three semi-finals. It left the way clear for Britain’s Tiffany Porter to cruise through to the final, clocking a season’s best of 12.63 with Canada’s Angela Whyte grabbing the second automatic qualifying spot.
Nia Ali, still suffering from tightness in her hamstring, finished third in 12.83, some way from the big PB of 12.48 she set at the US Championships and ultimately failing to progress to the final.
Rollins was up in the next semi-final and once again got off to a great start. The 21-year-old, who celebrates her 22nd birthday tomorrow, stopped the clock in 12.54 – 0.01 quicker than her time from yesterday’s heats to book her lane in the final.
Russia’s Yuliya Kondakova improved on the PB she set in the heats to grab second place, running 12.73. French champion Cindy Billaud was third in 12.78, which proved good enough to grab the last of the two non-automatic qualifying spots.
The third and final race of the round saw Pearson drawn in the lane next to 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson of the USA. Pearson was ahead from the outset though, shooting out of the blocks and snapping over each hurdle.
She won in 12.50, improving significantly on the 12.62 season’s best she ran in the heats. Harper-Nelson took second place in 12.61 with US team-mate Queen Harrison close behind in 12.71, the fastest of the non-automatic qualifying spots.
It’s no surprise that Pearson and Rollins were the fastest qualifiers for tonight’s final. But the Australian’s comeback has added an exciting twist to the story – one which will reach a conclusion very soon.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF