Canadian hopes for a first medal at the world track and field championships too a turn for the better Tuesday.
Hurlders Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien advanced to the semifinals in the women's 100-metre event. Lopes-Schliep, of Whitby, Ont., not only won her preliminary heat in 12.56 seconds but posted the fastest time of the opening round.
Felicien, of Pickering, Ont., was second in her heat in 12.77 seconds but owns the Canadian record of 12.46 seconds.
The top-four finishers plus the next four fastest times qualified for the semifinals. Edmonton's Angela Whyte failed to advance, finishing fifth in her heat and 26th overall in 13.27 seconds.
Meanwhile, American Sanya Richards shook off years of disappointment with her first major title in the 400 metres.
Her main rival, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, was back in fifth. And for Shericka Williams of Jamaica, it was silver again.
"I finally got it right," Richards said. "It means the world to me."
With a time of 49.00 seconds, Richards set the fastest mark of the year. It was good news for the struggling U.S. team, which had been unable to keep Jamaica from celebrating in the sprint events.
At the Beijing Olympics last year, Richards faltered over the last 50 metres and Ohuruogu won. Not so this year. In the shadows of the Usain Bolt-Tyson Gay 100-metre showdown, this duel was nearly as good.
Richards, in the third lane, had a clear look at defending champion Ohuruogu in the seventh lane and caught up with her over the first 300 metres. Then she only had to focus on the finishing line.
"She wanted it a little bit more than the rest of us," Ohuruogu said.
Richards was 0.32 seconds faster than Williams. Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia took bronze.
The American crossed the line with her arms raised in celebration, showing utter disbelief that so many failures finally ended in victory. With a grin on her face, she danced a little number for screaming fans.
Not only did she keep all competition at bay, she also shook off another flare-up from Behcet's syndrome, a rare disorder that causes chronic inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.
Two years ago, she struggled with the disease when she failed to qualify for the worlds in Osaka, Japan. This time, the lesions on her legs, stomach and inside her mouth were not going to conquer her.
Her legs cramped up with gold in sight at the Beijing Games. That made it all the sweeter at worlds.
"Finally, I own a major title," she said with gold around her neck on the podium. "Before, I had difficulties standing the pressure.
"But now I am a better athlete."
She looked beyond the imposing grey stone of the Olympic Stadium and up at an evening sky filled with wispy pink clouds.
Bolt, meanwhile, was looking to impose his dominance in the 200.
Going for his second gold medal of the worlds, Bolt jogged across the line to advance to the semifinals of the 200.
Two days after setting a world record of 9.58 seconds to win the 100, the Olympic 200-metre champion ran a good curve and coasted through the final straight to finish in 20.41 seconds, a full 1.11 seconds behind his world record.
Sam Effah of Calgary, Jared Connaughton of New Haven, P.E.I., and Gavin Smellie of Toronto all qualified for the second round. Connaughton won his heat in 20.82 seconds.
However, none of the three advanced to the semifinals.
In the absence of injured defending champion Gay, Bolt is the overwhelming favourite for gold, and he said he would try to get a second world record at the championships, too.
"I'll be running hard," Bolt said.
The Jamaican set a record of 19.30 seconds at the Beijing Olympics, widely considered one of the toughest to beat in the sport.
"I'm just trying to get through the rounds. That's my aim," Bolt said. "I'm trying to do it round by round like last year. Then I'll go to the final and just execute."
After his wild celebrations and showboating after winning the 100-metre race Sunday, he was short on antics this time. Blame it on fatigue since he had to be in the stadium early Tuesday morning for the first heat.
"I'm feeling a little tired, but nothing a good night's rest won't cure," Bolt said after his sixth race in four days.
American Kerron Clement successfully defended his 400-metre hurdles title, holding off a late challenge from Javier Culson of Puerto Rico.
The U.S. is atop the medal standings with three gold and seven overall. Russia is second with two gold and seven medals overall. Jamaica has two gold and five overall.
The final for the 200 is set for Thursday. Bolt is also favoured to lead Jamaica to a sprint relay gold Saturday to equal his feat of three golds at the Olympics.
If the loss of Ohuruogu was a setback for Britain, Phillips Idowu made up for it, winning the triple jump ahead of Olympic champion Nelson Evora of Portugal.
Kenya continued its supremacy in the steeplechase. Ezekiel Kemboi, the 2004 Olympic champion, won gold ahead of Richard Mateelong and set a championship record of 8:00.43. Bouabdellah Tahri of France settled for the bronze.
Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and defending champion Jeremy Wariner easily qualified for Wednesday's semifinals of the 400.
In the discus, overpowering Olympic and defending world champion Gerd Kanter qualified on his first throw.
The host country won its first gold when Steffi Nerius won the javelin ahead of favourite Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic.