Osaka:Asafa Powell made his point. Now Tyson Gay has to come up with an answer and a faster start on Sunday, when the 100 meters final will decide the fastest man at the world championships.
If Gay needs inspiration he only needs to look at the shot put, as unglamorous as the sprint is flashy, where Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson gave the United States a 1-2 finish on Saturday.
Jamaican world record holder Powell burst out of the blocks and eased up barely halfway through his second-round heat and still finished in the best time - 10.01 seconds.
"It was as I expected, nothing else. All is going according to my plans," Powell said.
Even Gay admired his main rival.
"He looked pretty good," Gay admitted "It was kind of impressive."
Once Powell used his strong start, he kept on watching the stadium tv screen, making sure he would not have to use one stride too much in the stifling evening temperature at Nagai Stadium.
After another sprinter jumped the gun in the subsequent heat, Gay struggled with his start on the second attempt and needed to work harder to win it in 10.06.
"If I just execute my start I will be ready for tomorrow," said Gay. "I need to work on my start."
Gay, with the fastest time in the world this year, has his eyes on the gold and Powell's record of 9.77. The semifinal and final are both set for Sunday night.
The US team got the start it wanted when Hoffa added the outdoor world title to his indoor gold. Defending champion Nelson won a medal for the fourth time in a row, adding to one gold and two silvers.
Hoffa beats Nelson
Hoffa took charge from the start and won with 22.04 meters, beating Nelson by 43 centimeters. Belorussian Andrei Mikhnevich, the 2003 champion, finished with 21.27 meters.
In the first event of the nine-day program, Luke Kibet won the men's marathon by the biggest margin - 79 seconds - in the history of the championships.
Although when Kibet, a 24-year-old prison guard from Kenya, hit the tape drenched in sweat in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds, he had just won the slowest major championships race at low altitude in 51 years, going back to the Melbourne Olympics.
Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar was second in 2:17:18, and Viktor Roethlin of Switzerland took bronze. The marathon is Japan's favorite event and failing to medal was a huge disappointment to the thousands lining Osaka's downtown streets.
"I wanted to get a medal today, the color would not be important," said Tsuyoshi Ogato, who was fifth.
The marathon, which started at 7 am local time and finished in 33 Celsius heat (91F) heat, was the first event of the program.
Carolina Kluft got off to a great start in the heptathlon, beating her personal best in the high jump and equaling her PB in the 100 hurdles before surging ahead further after 3 events. The Swede was in a good position to extend her five-year unbeaten streak and win an unprecedented third straight gold in the event on Sunday.
Kluft totaled 3,121 points, holding a big lead Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine, the season's top performer who has 3,042. Britain's Kelly Sutherton has 2,950.
In the shot put, defending champion Adam Nelson and world leading performer Reese Hoffa easily qualified for the final later Saturday.
The only other final on the opening night is the women's 10,000, where Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba is a favorite to defend her title.
Bernard Lagat made his first appearance wearing US colors in a major international competition, advancing through the first round of the 1,500 meters.
Lagat, who has lived in the United States since 1996, became a US citizen in 2004.
He was prohibited by international rules from competing for the United States in a world championships or Olympics until Friday, one day before the Osaka meet began. Lagat won an Olympic silver medal for Kenya in 2004 and a bronze in 2000.