(Reuters) -Sha’Carri Richardson kicked off her U.S. championships with the best performance of her career on Thursday by winning the opening 100m heat in a world-leading 10.71 seconds, while Christian Coleman cruised through on the men’s side in 9.95.

Fan favourite Richardson had lost her place at the Tokyo Olympics after a positive cannabis test and failed to qualify for last year’s world championships but showed she was determined to get it right this time in Eugene, Oregon.

She exploded off the blocks and never gave up the lead, offering a subdued celebration before quickly exiting the track at Hayward Field having booked her spot in Friday’s semi-finals.

Brittany Brown finished 0.25 seconds behind Richardson in their heat, while 17-year-old high schooler Mia Brahe-Pedersen also advanced in 11.05.

Coleman, the 2019 100m world champion who missed the Tokyo Games after being suspended for breaching ‘whereabouts’ rules, was the highlight of the men’s side with the fastest time overall.

“This game is a lot about momentum and just your mental fortitude,” Coleman, who finished third at the NYC Grand Prix last month, told reporters. “Being able to perform and call upon what you know you can do when it’s time to do it.”

Double 200m world champion Noah Lyles had failed to qualify in the shorter sprint for the Tokyo Games and looked as though he might struggle again, as he was slow to get going through the opening stages of his heat.

But he kicked into high gear after the halfway point to finish second in his heat in 10.05, four hundredths of a second behind Cravont Charleston.

“I just started moving on people,” said Lyles, who added that he had been sick with COVID since competing in New York. “It’s been a wild week, very wild week.”

Trayvon Bromell, who took bronze at the worlds last year, also advanced but silver medallist Marvin Bracy did not move on after appearing to suffer a leg issue mid-race.


Olympic 400m hurdles champion Sydney McLaughlin continued her foray into the flat race by winning her heat in 49.79 and was the only competitor across the four opening heats to crack 50 seconds.

Running on the same track where she crushed her own hurdles world record last year, McLaughlin was in complete control coming off the final turn and eased through the finish.

Tokyo 800m bronze medallist Raevyn Rogers and twice world bronze medallist Ajee Wilson had no issues reaching the next round of their event, while Nia Akins had the day’s fastest overall time of 1:59.09.

In the men’s event, Rio bronze medal winner Clayton Murphy posted the best time of 1:46.36. Will Sumner, the fastest American in the event this year, also advanced.

The top three finishers across all events in Eugene who meet certain qualifying standards, as well as reigning global title-holders, advance to the world championships in Budapest starting on Aug. 19.

The United States collected a championships record 33 medals last year in the first world championships on U.S. soil.

The U.S. trials kicked off on Thursday and run through Sunday.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Jamie Freed and Peter Rutherford)

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