Tori Bowie, primarily a long jumper until two years ago, began to make her case as Olympic 100m favorite in the Diamond League season opener in Doha on Friday.
Bowie won in 10.80 seconds, the fastest-ever time this early in a year. The clocking matched the soft-spoken Mississippi native’s personal best.
Bowie was the world’s fastest woman in 2014, her first season as a full-time sprinter, and earned the World Championships 100m bronze medal last August.
At Worlds, she finished behind Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers.
In Doha, Bowie beat Schippers (10.83) and Worlds fourth-place finisher Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.91) with a .7 meter/second tailwind, easily within the legal limit of 2.0.
“I’m a much better runner now than I was last season,” Bowie said, according to the IAAF.
Fraser-Pryce, the two-time reigning Olympic and World champion, bettered 10.80 three times last year, including a 10.76 to win the World title.
Fraser-Pryce was not in Doha and hasn’t raced a 100m yet this year but is entered in a Jamaican meet Saturday.
In other events Friday, Caster Semenya notched her first Diamond League win since 2011, taking the 800m in 1:58.26, the fastest time in the world this year.
Semenya, who won the 2009 World title and 2012 Olympic silver, is best known for a gender-testing controversy of 2009 and 2010. The South African struggled since the London Games, failing to make the 2015 Worlds final, but on Friday breezed into the lead with about 60 meters left and opened a comfortable winning margin of .88.
“I can’t say there have been many changes in my training or my attitude,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF.
Semenya’s resurgence has come since a July decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that suspended for two years an IAAF ruling in 2011 that regulated women’s testosterone levels for competition eligibility.
Semenya has performed well at various times before the 2011 ruling, during the regulation period and now without the regulation.
In the 110m hurdles, Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt took sixth place in 13.37 seconds in his first Diamond League race since a Sept. 1 kidney transplant. Jamaican Omar McLeod prevailed in 13.05, the fastest time in the world this year.
Beijing Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt won a 400m in 44.41. Merritt took silver at 2015 Worlds behind South African Wayde van Niekerk, who clocked 44.11 in Bloemfontein earlier Friday.
Ameer Webb looked like a man who will make his first Olympic team in the 200m, winning in a personal-best 19.85 seconds. Webb, 26, had not broken 20 seconds until this year. He’s now done it in consecutive meets.
The Doha 200m did not include World medalists Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin or Anaso Jobodwana. Webb’s time on Friday would have taken bronze at Worlds and ranks him No. 3 among Americans since the London Olympics. Only Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt have been faster in that span.
The Diamond League continues in Shanghai on May 14.
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