Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and men’s 1500 metres world champion Jake Wightman both sailed through their heats at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.
Thompson-Herah’s hopes of adding 200m gold to the 100m title she won on Wednesday will partly rest on whether Namibia’s Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma shakes off rustiness due to a lack of training.
Both came through their heats without a hitch in front of another sizeable crowd at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
The women’s 200m is one of the standout events at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, featuring the two first home in the Olympic final, Thompson-Herah and Mboma.
Thompson-Herah had a quick turnaround from winning the 100m but she barely broke sweat in winning her heat in 22.80sec.
The 30-year-old is on the first step of what she says is her bid to return to the top after a disappointing world championships last month.
Thompson-Herah topped the podium at last year’s Tokyo Olympics in both the 100m and 200m, retaining the titles she had won in Rio.
But she only took bronze in the 100m behind compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson at this year’s worlds in Eugene, Oregon, and finished seventh in the 200m final.
Fraser-Pryce and Jackson opted to skip the Commonwealths, although Fraser-Pryce is in Birmingham as she trains with the team ahead of next week’s Monaco Diamond League meeting.
Mboma has been restricted to the 200m since World Athletics, the sport’s governing body, ruled she cannot run distances from 400m up to 1600m because of her naturally high testosterone levels.
The 19-year-old — Namibia’s first-ever female Olympic athletics medallist — eased into the second round, timing 23.20sec.
They go again on Friday in the semi-finals, with the final scheduled for Saturday.
Wightman qualified for Saturday’s men’s 1500m final, where he will be in the unusual position of being the hunted and not the hunter after his stunning success in the world championships.
“That was the bit I was most looking forward to,” said the Scottish runner, referring to the enormous roar that swept around the stadium when his name was announced.
The men’s 1500m should be a face-off between Scotland and Kenya.
In the Kenyan corner is 2019 world champion and Olympic silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang, who was fourth at last year’s Tokyo Games.
In the blue corner for Scotland are Wightman and Olympic bronze medallist Josh Kerr.
Wightman, 28, said he did not care that he now has a target on his back.
“I don’t feel any more pressure but a bit more hype around it, for sure,” he told the BBC.
Canada’s Camryn Rogers set a new Games record throw of 74.68 metres in the women’s hammer throw.