DOHA, Qatar ‑ Anthonique Strachan and Tynia Gaither had little trouble getting out of the opening round heats of the women’s 200 meters (m) at the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships currently ongoing in Doha, Qatar, but the real test is expected to come in the next round.
Up first, Strachan blazed to victory in her heat, winning in 22.86 seconds. Running from the inside in lane two, she came off the curve in great position and cruised to victory. Kamaria Bryant, of Trinidad & Tobago, was second in that heat in 23.08 seconds, and Jamaican Shashalee Forbes grabbed the third automatic qualifying spot for the final, finishing in 23.15 seconds.
“I just tried to put myself in a good position coming off of the turn. Starting and the turn is usually my biggest problem and I feel like I improved in those areas,” said Strachan. “I know that I can do better but I’ll just go back and talk to my coach and see what corrections I could make. Hopefully I get a good lane draw for the semis and just go from there.”
Running out of heat four, Tynia Gaither crossed the finish line in third place in a season’s best time of 22.57 seconds – the second-best time of her career and just three one hundredths of a second off her personal best. Dina Asher-Smith, the 100m silver medalist from Great Britain, won that heat in 22.32 seconds. The United States’ National Champion Dezerea Bryant was second in 22.56 seconds.
“Well I finished strong,” said Gaither. “Usually I run out of gas but this time I stuck in there until the end. I had more in the tank and I was able to pull through. My body feels good. I am ready to go. I’m in a much better position than I thought I would be physically coming off those two rounds of the 100. I felt pretty good in this race. I felt sharp and I felt like I had more energy. I’m excited for the semis.”
Overall, Gaither is the fifth-fastest qualifier for the semifinals, and Strachan is the 15th fastest. Asher-Smith qualified for the semis with the fastest time of 22.32 seconds and American Brittany Brown was the second-fastest qualifier, finishing in a personal best time of 22.33 seconds. The semifinals will be contested today.
Gaither, who made the women’s 200m final at the last world championships in London, England, two years ago, said she is looking forward to running even faster today.
“What makes me confident is that I was able to make the final at the last worlds and that was a tough time for me,” she said. “I feel like I’m in a much better position physically and mentally now so I’m looking to take it a step further.”
Strachan’s heat was a bit subdued with the absence of two medal hopefuls as Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, the bronze medalist in the 100m on Sunday, and Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, both pulled out.
“I didn’t pay any attention to it,” said Strachan. “I didn’t even know that they weren’t going to be in the race until I was walking out and they never came to the call-up. I’m the type of person who focusses on my own lane. I was in lane two and that’s all I was worried about.”
Gaither and Strachan, both 26, have both had progressive seasons. Both have been consistently under 23 seconds this year. Having run the second-fastest time of her career in the opening round, Gaither feels that the setting is right for her to go 22-low or even faster in the semis and then go after a medal in the final. She also won bronze at the Pan American Games this summer. This season, Strachan has run her fastest time in the women’s 200m in the past four seasons. She too believes she could much faster and is looking forward to the semis.
The field is wide open in the women’s 200m. Also not entered are Jamaican eight-time World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who just ran a world-leading 10.71 seconds for the gold medal in the women’s 100m on Sunday night, and Bahamian world leader Shaunae Miller-Uibo who chose to contest the women’s 400m at these world championships as opposed to the shorter race.
Be that as it may, both Strachan and Gaither said that they are focussed on their lanes and doing what they need to do to make it through to the final, and then go from there.
The semifinals are set for 9:35 p.m. this evening in Doha, 2:35 p.m. in The Bahamas. Strachan and Gaither would have to finish in the top two in their heats or be among the next two fastest times to move on to the final.