By Steve Keating
DOHA (Reuters) – Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith led the charge into the 200 metres final at the world athletics championships on Tuesday while Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson pulled out to leave the gold medal up for grabs.
A silver medallist in the 100m, Asher-Smith will go into Wednesday’s final as the clear favourite for gold after cruising home in 22.16 seconds ahead of Americans Brittany Brown (22.46) and Anglerne Annelus (22.49) who posted the top times in the other two heats.
The final will be without both the defending world and Olympic champions in an event that was depleted by withdrawals.
Thompson, who narrowly missed out on a 100m medal on Sunday by finishing fourth, was the latest casualty when she withdrew from the semi-finals.
The 200m has been a double disappointment for Jamaica with Thompson following the withdrawal of 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who scratched from the opening heats with soreness.
Also failing to reach the starting blocks for the first heats were Ivory Coast’s 100m bronze medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers, 200m champion at the last two worlds, who pulled out with strained abductor muscle.
The event had already lost one of the gold medal favourites Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas. She owns the best time of 21.74 this season but opted out of the 200m in Doha to run the 400m.
(Additional reporting Gene Cherry. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)