Cuban triple jumper Lazaro Martinez upset Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo to claim the opening gold of the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade on Friday.
Martinez soared out to a first-round 17.64 metres, bettering his previous personal best by 43 centimetres to see off Portugal’s Cuban-born Pichardo, who claimed silver with a best of 17.46m.
American Donald Scott won bronze at the Stark Arena to deny teammate and two-time former champion Will Claye a place on the podium by 2cm.
Poland’s Ewa Swoboda, who has taken her PB down to a world-leading 6.99sec during an unbeaten 2022 season, remained on course for a 60m showdown with fancied American Marybeth Sant-Price after winning her heat in 7.10.
Jamaican sprinters have won three of the past five world indoor 60m finals and 19-year-old Briana Williams and multiple world and Olympic 400m medallist Shericka Jackson both qualified with ease.
Sant-Price’s teammate Mikiah Brisco topped heat times with an impressive personal best of 7.03sec.
“I just wanted to qualify for the next round, I didn’t think I was going to set a personal record in round one, what a bonus,” Brisco said.
“This is a quick track. I think I can get better in the next round.”
The semi-finals and final are scheduled for Friday’s evening session.
Fans were guaranteed another prized duel as two-time Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and Dutch athlete Femke Bol both qualified for the semi-finals of the women’s 400m.
Bol, who clocked the third-fastest 400m hurdles time ever when winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics behind world record setter Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad, clocked 51.48sec to win her heat, while Miller-Uibo timed 51.74 in winning hers.
The first day of the men’s heptathlon saw Canada’s Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner streak to a personal best of 6.68sec in the opening 60m before posting leading efforts in both the long jump (8.05m) and shot put (14.89m).
That left Warner 58 points ahead of Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer and Australian Ashley Moloney is lying third with the high jump to come later Friday before the multi-discipline event rounds off with the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m on Saturday.
Britain’s Katharina Johnson-Thompson, in her first competition in a year after relocating to the United States and changing coach, was last in her pentathlon 60m hurdles heat, in 8.45sec, some way of her personal best of 8.18.
In the absence of Belgium’s Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Nafi Thiam, Johnson-Thompson, also world heptathlon winner at the 2019 Doha outdoor champs, is seeking to become the first woman to retain the indoor title after her triumph in Birmingham in 2018.
But she was left punching the landing mat in frustration after bailing out at 1.83m in the high jump, well short of the 1.97m she has previously managed, before registering a best of 13.02m in the shot put to leave her in provisional fifth spot.
The long jump and 800m will be held in the evening session with Belgian Noor Vidts leading
The evening session of the first day of competition will also see three other finals, with the men competing in the long jump and women going for gold in the 3,000m and shot put.