MOSCOW — On a night when pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva’s remarks about gays shifted attention from track to politics, the U.S.-Jamaica sprint showdown moved to the 200 meters at the IAAF World Championships on Thursday.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the women’s 100 champion, and Olympic champion Allyson Felix dominated their semifinal heats.
While Fraser-Pryce’s bid for three gold medals is still alive, Felix is looking for the same triple she won at the London Olympics last year, combining the 200 with the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Felix had the top time of 22.30 seconds, but Fraser-Pryce coasted well ahead of the line and finished with the fourth-best qualifying time for Friday’s final.
It was quite a bountiful medal night for the Americans, with Dalilah Muhammad and defending champion Lashinda Demus finishing 2-3 in a 400 hurdles race won by Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic in 52.83. Michael Tinsley lost in the men’s 400 hurdles when Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago outleaned him at the finish in a world-leading time of 47.69.
Isinbayeva received her gold medal Thursday. Before that, she staunchly defended a new anti-gay law in Russia that has led Western activists to call for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. The law means that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing.
“We are just against the publicity in our country, and I support our government,” Isinbayeva said.
The day’s political developments began after Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden qualified for the high jump final with distinctly painted fingernails. She posted a picture of her fingers on social media website Instagram, saying “Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow.” She followed that with several hashtags, including “#pride” and “#moscow2013.”
“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,” Isinbayeva said.
Said U.S. runner Nick Symmonds, who was second in the men’s 800: “I can’t believe she said that. It’s bad. Among my generation, this is a nonissue, for the most part.”