US shot putter Ryan Whiting retained his world indoor title in thrilling style on Friday as Nadine Broersen claimed the Netherlands’ first-ever women’s pentathlon gold.
In a packed opening day at the Ergo Arena at the Polish Baltic Sea resort town of Sopot, a host of other favorites safely negotiated their heats ahead of finals over the weekend.
In a gripping shot put contest, Whiting managed a best of 22.05m on his fourth attempt to finish 26cm ahead of Germany’s two-time outdoor champion David Storl, the early leader.
New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh claimed a surprise bronze (21.26m) to break home hearts, as the hugely popular Tomasz Majewski finished 22cm short of the podium.
“I came in as favorite and I’m glad I could execute because I didn’t last summer in Moscow [when he won silver behind Storl],” the 27-year-old Whiting said.
“I plan to be the favorite a lot in the future. It’s a good step,” he added.
The 23-year-old Broersen racked up 4,830 points from the five disciplines of 60m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800m that make up the pentathlon.
Her victory ruined any chance of golden marital bliss for Canada’s silver medalist Brianne Thiesen Eaton, whose husband, Ashton Eaton, in the US team, was primed for top spot in the men’s heptathlon event.
Eaton, on 3,653 points overnight, was just one point shy of his own world record pace with the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m to be held yesterday.
In other events, a host of familiar faces advanced smoothly through their heats, notably Australian Sally Pearson, who matched her season best of 7.79 seconds to easily progress in the 60m hurdles.
Pearson claimed the world outdoor 100m hurdles title in 2011 in Daegu and went on to win Olympic gold in London a year later.
Jamaican Nesta Carter, the fifth-fastest man of all time over 100m, sailed through his opening 60m heat along with a bunch of other favorites, including US duo Marvin Bracy and Trell Kimmons, and British veteran Dwain Chambers.
Kenyan-born Bernard Lagat and US teammate Galen Rupp, the training partner of absent Briton Mo Farah, both moved through to the final of the men’s 3,000m.
Fancied Ethiopian duo Genzebe Dibaba and Mohammed Aman both advanced to the finals of their respective events.
Dibaba, fresh from breaking three world indoor records as she looks to add the 3,000m crown to the 1,500m indoor title she won two years ago in Istanbul, cruised through her heat.
Aman produced a last-lap burst of speed to also easily win his 800m heat and put him well on the way to defending the title he won in Istanbul as a junior.