August 13, 2016 1:40:48 pm
Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce launched her bid to become the first woman to win three Olympic 100 metres titles on Friday by booking her place in the semi-finals with a time of 10.96 seconds.
The 29-year-old, who won gold in Beijing and London, cruised to an easy win in her heat in Rio, qualifying in first place and posting the only sub-11 seconds time of the night.
Fraser-Pryce, sporting yellow-and-green hair, was one of few athletes to elicit a cheer from the meagre crowds at Rio’s Olympic Stadium on the first day of the athletics competition.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye won her heat in 11 seconds flat to qualify in second place. Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, aiming for her country’s second Olympic medal in track-and-field, ran 11.01 to go through in third.
Nursing a toe injury, Fraser-Pryce’s qualifying time was only her second sub-11 seconds race this season and she faces some stiff competition to reach the top of the podium.
English Gardner and Tori Bowie, both hoping to end the United States’ 20-year gold medal drought in the event, qualified fifth (11.09) and sixth (11.13).
Elaine Thompson, whose 10.70 at the national championships this year equalled Fraser-Pryce’s Jamaican record and was joint fourth on the all-time list, won her heat in 11.21 but was overshadowed by local sprinter Rosangela Santo.
The Brazilian delighted the smattering of spectators left in the stadium with a second place finish and time of 11.25.
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