LONDON (Reuters) - World champion Carmelita Jeter made a big statement of intent in the heats of the women’s 100 meters at the London Olympics on Friday, powering home in 10.83 seconds to set the fourth fastest time of the year.
The 32-year-old American failed to qualify for the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics but made an immediate impression in London and won her heat by a clear couple of meters in front of a packed house.
Defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica looked in no mood to try and match Jeter but qualified comfortably in 11 seconds, as did her compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.94) and Allyson Felix (11.01).
“I just came out and executed like my coach wanted me to,” Jeter told reporters.
“We still have two rounds to go. Everybody is definitely going to be running their hearts out tomorrow.”
Fraser-Price, who owns the fastest time of the year with her 10.70 from the Jamaican trials, was not happy with her start but was looking forward to defending her title on Saturday.
“I have no fear,” she said. “It is going to come down to who wants it the most.”
Felix thought her coach would not have been pleased with the third slowest reaction time in her heat and admitted there was more work to do before the semi-finals and, hopefully, final.
“Other than that I was happy with my acceleration,” the former 200m world champion said. “I definitely have got to put it together.”
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, who went under 11 seconds for the first time in July, won the fourth heat in a personal best time of 10.93, pushed all the way by American Tianna Madison (10.97) in the closest contest of a balmy evening.
“I am really excited about the way I ran with a personal best,” she said. “I am real excited about that.”
The other heat winners were Trinidad and Tobago’s world championship bronze medal winner Kelly-Ann Baptiste (10.96) and Murielle Ahoure, who broke the Ivory Coast national record in 10.99.
Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart, who shared the silver medal with Sherone Simpson in Beijing four years ago, qualified third behind Ahoure in (11.08).
Editing by Ed Osmond