Fred Kerley’s bid to defend his 100-meter world title remained on track Saturday as the American advanced to the semi-finals while Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs received a major fright.
Kerley endured six starts at the raucous National Athletics Centre before registering 9.99sec for a comfortable second place behind heat winner Oblique Seville, who won in a personal best of 9.86.
“The first round was about taking it easy, but I had to get through it after several false starts, and I’m glad I held it together,” a relieved Kerley said.
“You must simply control your emotions. You are aware that you are prepared to go, so you must simply control your emotions.
Seville said he was “very surprised” by his performance.
“I never anticipated it in the opening round. But that time gives me tremendous confidence for the subsequent rounds.
“It was fantastic to be able to remain with Fred Kerley in the lane next to me. This is something I will bring with me to the semifinals.
“I believe we can frighten those Americans. The Jamaicans are undoubtedly coming,” he added, noting that Rohan Watson and Ryiem Forde have also qualified.
Jacobs, who has not raced Kerley since beating the American to gold in Tokyo in 2021, waited until the final moments of his heat to earn the third automatic qualifying place in 10.15 seconds.
Jacobs has only competed outdoors once this season, finishing eighth in 10.21 seconds at the Paris Diamond League last month. The Italian was understandably ring rusty, having not competed outdoors since April.
Only the top three from each of the seven heats and the next three quickest competitors advanced to Sunday’s three semi-finals, which will begin at 14:35 GMT, followed by the final at 17:10 GMT.
Lyles, who is also vying for a third 200m world championship, declared, “I’m going to run sub-10 every race and get faster and faster.”
“The final will be won regardless of how fast I run. I’ve stated that I can run 9.65, and I don’t believe anyone else can. But if they believe they can, I’ll be there to beat them to the punch.”
Kerley added, “Noah and I are teammates, but we have the same objective, which is to triumph. And I know what I will do, which is triumph.
“Whatever time it takes, I’ll be first; if it’s 10.3 seconds, it’s 10.3 seconds. However, the course is rapid, so the race will be brief.”
US champion Cravont Charleston finished fifth in his heat with a time of 10.18 seconds and did not advance.
Christian Coleman qualified in second place, trailing South Africa’s Akani Simbine (9.97).
This year’s fastest sprinter, Zharnel Hughes, a Briton born in Anguilla, overcame a slow start to win his division in 10 seconds flat.
His 9.83sec performance in New York in June broke the British record held by former world champion Linford Christie by four-hundredths.
Letsile Tebogo of Botswana, a two-time world under-20 champion, was another heat victor.