LONDON, England — Jamaica's female 100m sprinters have set the pace for their male counterparts to follow when they bow into action this afternoon on the second day of track and field competition at the 27th Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London.
Defending 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell Brown won their heats, while silver medallist from Beijing, China, Kerron Stewart was third, all automatic qualifiers for today's semi-finals after yesterday's first round.
World champion Carmelita Jeter of the USA leads all qualifiers with a workmanlike 10.83 seconds (+1.5m/s wind) with Campbell Brown third fastest overall, Fraser-Pryce, seventh fastest and Kerron Stewart, 14th of the 16 qualifiers.
Today, defending champion and world record holder Usain Bolt, IAAF world champion Yohan Blake and former world record holder Asafa Powell will make their first appearance in what is expected to be another sold-out stadium.
The preliminary rounds of the men's 100m will be run in the morning session while the ranked athletes will join the fray later in the afternoon for what is easily the most anticipated event of the Games.
Yesterday Fraser-Pryce shook off a "tentative" start to win her first-round heat in 11.00 seconds (+1.5m/s wind) before later joking with reporters that the plan "is never to start slowly, it is always the plan to start properly and execute a good 100m and move on to the semi-finals".
Asked about her confidence in retaining her title, she said: "My confidence is not in man, it's in God, because He is the one who has brought me here, so I just look forward to the semi-finals with that in mind and have no fear, it all comes down to who wants it most."
Fraser-Pryce dragged Trinidad's Semoy Hackett to a personal best 11.04 seconds, while Ukraine's Olesya Povh was third in 11.18 seconds.
Campbell Brown looked to be in her best form all season, got off to a brilliant start in her heat and ran a controlled race to win in 10.94 seconds (1.5m/s) before rushing past reporters in the mixed zone without stopping.
Campbell Brown finished ahead of Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova in 11.06 seconds and Nigeria's Gloria Asumnu in 11.13 seconds.
Stewart appeared to have been left at the start but said: "I think my reaction was good, but I stumbled on my third step and I had to fight to get back in it, this is the Olympics and this is when it counts so I have to show up."
Stewart finished behind the Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure (10.99 seconds) and the British Virgin Island's Lavern Jones-Ferrette (11.08 seconds) and added: "I believe everything in life is a test and it shows real character when you can come back and stay tough, it's easy to stay on top when the going is good, but the real true character is coming back from tough days.
"I want to be in the final, but I first have to be in the semi-finals, so we will see what happens tomorrow."