Kelli White of the United States established herself firmly as the favourite to win the women's 100m sprint by setting the fastest qualifying time in the semi-finals on Sunday morning at the World Athletics Championships in Paris.
White, 26, who was seventh in the event at the previous IAAF World Championship in Edmonton, Canada, burned the track in 10.96s in the first heat of the semis, a good 0.05s ahead of second-placed Frenchwoman Christine Arron. White had returned the same timing in the quarterfinals yesterday.
Arron, 30, the European women's 100m record holder with a timing of 10.73s set in 1998 at Budapest, Hungary, was just one-hundredth of a second ahead of the Ukrainian defending champion Zhanna Block.
Block, 31, had been the fastest woman at the Edmonton championships with a timing of 10.82s, her personal best.
Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas, who had set the second fastest timing of 10.98s in the quarters, won her semifinal heat, but in a much slower 11.06s, two-hundredths of a second ahead of Ekaterini Thanou of Greece.
Veteran Gail Devers of the United States, 100m world champion in 1993 and twice Olympic gold medallist in the event in 1992 and 1996, was the second slowest qualifier with 11.12s. Devers, 36, was three-hundredths of a second ahead of Aleen Bailey of Jamaica.
The other veteran in the event, the evergreen Merlene Ottey, competing in her seventh world championship at the age of 43, failed to make the cut for the final, finishing sixth with a timing of 11.26s in White's heat.
Ottey, who was born in Jamaica but now competes for her adopted country Slovenia, had taken part in every world championship from the first one in Helsinki, 1983, to the sixth in Athens, 1997.
Following is the lineup for the women's 100m final later today.
Kelli White (USA) 10.96s
Christine Arron (France) 11.01s
Zhanna Block (Ukraine) 11.02s
Chandra Sturrup (Bahamas) 11.06s
Ekaterini Thanou (Greece) 11.08s
Torri Edwards (USA) 11.11s
Gail Devers (USA) 11.12s
Aleen Bailey (Jamaica) 11.15s