McLaughlin, Muhammad cruise into final

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Sydney McLaughlin coolly cruised through her semi-final of the 400m hurdles on a steamy night at Hayward Field at the world athletics championships.

Hardly pressed and conserving energy near the finish, the Olympic champion and world-record holder finished in a time of 52.17 seconds on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

That's fast for never kicking into overdrive.

It might be another sign that the American's record of 51.41 - set on this track nearly a month ago - could fall yet again.

The final is on Friday and includes all three medallists from the Tokyo Games - McLaughlin, silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad and bronze medalist Femke Bol of the Netherlands.

"It was a good day to get faster," said McLaughlin, who improved on her first-round time by almost two seconds. "I just want to be free, give all I have and leave it all on the track."

On deck, another epic showdown.

It was a warm one at Hayward Field with temperatures hovering around 33 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday also marked both the beginning and end of Caster Semenya's stay at the championships.

Semenya finished 13th and did not advance through her 5000m heat.

She ran the longer distance because she is banned from her specialty, the 800m, due to rules that demand she take hormone-reducing drugs to enter certain races.

In the men's 400m semis, American Champion Allison produced a remarkable comeback to advance to the final, while compatriot Michael Norman stormed to the fastest finish.

World record-holder and twice world champion Wayde van Niekerk appeared to have a comfortable lead heading into the final 100 metres before Barbadian Jonathan Jones surged forward, running shoulder-to-shoulder with the South African.

But it was Allison, the second-fastest this year behind Norman, who recovered from about a metre back to sneak across the finish first, with van Niekerk, the Rio Olympic champion, holding on for the second automatic qualification spot.

China's Feng Bin put up the performance of her life to claim a stunning win in the women's discus final, as Olympic champion American Valerie Allman settled for bronze.

Feng won with her 69.12m opener, a personal best and her strongest performance of the season by a wide margin, as Croatia's twice Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic (68.45m) secured the silver.

Norah Jeruto delivered a devastating display of front running to win the men's 3000m steeplelechase title in a massive championship record, earning gold for Kazakhstan having switched allegiance from Kenya earlier this year.

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