Ennis-Hill closes in on gold, Fraser-Pryce cruises

Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:47am EDT
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By Gene Cherry

BEIJING (Reuters) - Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill took charge of heptathlon after British compatriot and gold medal rival Katarina Johnson-Thompson fouled out in the long jump chasing world athletics championship glory on Sunday.

Elsewhere on the second morning at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium, defending champion and favorite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce eased through the opening heats of the women's 100 meters in a very comfortable 10.88 seconds.

"Today is just about getting through the rounds," she said, sporting long green hair and a sunflower headband.

The champion was joined in Monday's semi-finals by a nervous American contender Tori Bowie (10.88), who put down a marker by easily beating former Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown (11.04) of Jamaica in the opening heat.

"I wanted to stay relaxed. This is my first major championships and I came out here extremely nervous today," Bowie said after a quick heat time.

The experienced duo of Olympic champion Kirani James (44.56 seconds) of Grenada and U.S. world champion LaShawn Merritt (44.51) barely strained as they safely negotiated the men's 400m heats.

"I handled business like I was supposed to in the first round," Merritt said. "I was a little conservative, but just enough to win. I know what to do in these championships."

Prodigious American talent Shamier Little endured a tricky opening heat in the women's 400m hurdles, though, with the world junior champion just slipping through to the semi-finals in fourth after losing her stride on the home stretch.   Continued...

Jessica Ennis-Hill of Britain competes in the javelin throw event of the women's heptathlon during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, August 23, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble