Doha: British European champion Dwain Chambers showed he was the man to beat in the men’s 60 metres, clocking a fast 6.59 seconds in his opening race of the IAAF world indoor championships on Friday.
“It felt good, but it’s early days yet,” said Chambers, who became the favourite for the title when U.S. champion Ivory Williams tested positive for marijuana and was declared ineligible for the championships.
“I did not show 100 per cent of me,” added the 2008 silver medallist. “It is not about doing big things in the heats but in the final.”
Australian Olympic and world champion Steve Hooker turned his first indoor pole vault of the year into an easy qualifier, joining eight others in Saturday’s final by clearing 5.60 on his only attempt.
However, the year’s top indoor vaulter, France’s Renaud Lavillenie, could not advance past the opening session of the three-day championships.
The world outdoor bronze medallist failed three times at the qualifying height.
“I jumped just before the equipment broke, so that made it much easier,” Hooker said after the competition was interrupted because of a problem with one of the standards on which the bar rests.
“Anyone that had to jump after that, it made it very challenging. I really feel for those guys.”
Lavillenie and U.S. 2004 Olympic champion Tim Mack were among the victims, both ending their day at 5.45 metres.
“I spent 30 minutes without jumping at 5.60,” Lavillenie said of his failure. “It is a real pity because these championships were a rare opportunity where I could get a real competition from Steve Hooker and that’s the day when I messed it up.”
Hooker overcame the pain from a torn thigh muscle to win last year’s Berlin outdoor world championships in a stern test of mind over body.
“I would love to win this competition,” a much more relaxed Hooker said this time. “That is my only goal coming here.”
Heavily favoured defending women’s high jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia smoothly advanced to Saturday’s final, clearing all three heights she attempted.
Vlasic, who has world record hopes, was one of nine moving forward with clearances of 1.92 metres.
“It’s always a stressful competition, the qualification, because there are a lot of people (jumping),” said Vlasic, who has jumped 2.06 metres this season. “But I am happy with everything today.”
Champion Christian Cantwell joined Germany’s Ralf Bartels in qualifying for Saturday’s men’s shot put final.
Bartels, the 2006 European champion, had a heave of 20.91 metres on his second attempt while American Cantwell threw only once, reaching 20.72 to meet the automatic qualifying standard.