Zharnel Hughes books spot in 100m semis as favourite Coleman impresses
Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes powered into the 100 metres semi-finals at the World Championships as Christian Coleman sent out a gold medal warning.
European champion Hughes won his heat in 10.08 seconds to comfortably go through on the opening day in Doha on Friday.
Coleman was the only man to go under 10 seconds as the American clocked 9.98secs in the final heat to underline his status as favourite.
They were joined in Saturday’s semis by Adam Gemili, who came third in his heat, while defending champion Justin Gatlin, Andre De Grasse and Yohan Blake all eased through.
Hughes is a medal contender at the Khalifa International Stadium and could land Great Britain’s 100th World Championship medal in Saturday’s final.
He said: “I’m happy I got through, that’s the main aim and that’s what I came here to do – get through the rounds and on to the semi-finals. I’m feeling well. As long as I get it together I know I’ll be fine.
“I know the start wasn’t that amazing. I’ll work on it. I have to find my setting on that block because it’s a bit different from what I’m using. Once I find it I’ll be fine.”
GB team-mate Ojie Edoburun ran 10.23s in the first heat, coming fifth, but qualified as the final fastest loser.
But it was Coleman in the final heat who looked most impressive.
The American, the fastest man in the world this year, arrived under a cloud, having initially been charged with missing three drugs tests – known as whereabouts failures – in 12 months, a claim he contested.
It carried an automatic one-year ban, but the United States Anti-Doping Agency withdrew the charge after guidance from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Lord Coe, president of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, also defended Coleman after criticism from Michael Johnson.
Four-time Olympic champion Johnson believes Coleman has forfeited his right to become the next face of athletics because of the controversy over his missed tests.
Coe said: “I don’t agree with that. It’s important we take the whereabouts extremely seriously and athletes understand it’s a part of the ecosystem.
“Most athletes have a network of support around them to remind them, so one missed whereabouts should ring serious alarm bells.
“The decision that WADA and the US Anti-Doping Agency took, to review those regulations and to make sure there’s no anomalies, I am glad they reviewed that.
“It’s a grown-up, sensible approach. I am pleased Coleman is here and I want to make sure he is given every opportunity to be one of the faces of these championships.
“We have to be very careful not to play fast and loose with the reputation of athletes.”
It was a low-key opening to the championships, with the stadium barely half full and a top tier completely closed.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, the first British athlete to compete in Doha, reached Saturday’s 800m semi-finals by finishing second in her heat.
She ran 2:02.09 behind American Raevyn Rogers and was joined in the next round by GB team-mate Alex Bell.
But Lynsey Sharp, considered a medal contender with defending champion Caster Semenya missing, surprisingly crashed out after coming fourth in her heat.