By Gene Cherry
Portland, Oregon, (Reuters) - Fast-starting Barbara Pierre is ready for a run at the Rio Olympics.
The American sprinter rocketed her way to victory in the women's 60 meters at the world indoor championships on Saturday, surprising Dutch world 200m champion Dafne Schippers and adding her name to potential candidates for the U.S. Olympic team.
The Haitian-born sprinter never let up after bursting out of the blocks, winning in 7.02 seconds, two-hundredths of a second faster than Schippers, the world 100m silver medalist.
"It was amazing," the 29-year-old Pierre said. "The crowd just gave me that extra bit. I said, 'I'm at home I need to win this, nobody else.'"
Ranked third behind Tori Bowie and English Gardner among American 100m sprinters last year, she had run a lifetime best 7.00 seconds for 60m at the U.S. championships a week ago to equal Schippers' 2016 world-leading mark from February.
But even after backing up that quick time with rounds of 7.07 and 7.06 seconds at the world championships, she needed a quick start to defeat the favored Schippers.
"I didn't see anybody," said Pierre of her rapid release in the final. "That's why I didn't know if I won or not. I was zoned out. I couldn't see anything."
She probably would not have won without the quick start, she said.
"It is such a short race so you kind of have to get out," Pierre said. "And that is like my strongest point."
Schippers was clearly beaten at the start and could not overcome Pierre.
"It was not a good race," the Dutch runner said. "My start was not so good but my speed was very good. So I am just going to go for the outdoor season and go for the 100 and 200m."
She no doubt will be a top challenger to Jamaican Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m and likely the co-favorite with American Allyson Felix in the 200m at Rio.
Pierre has never been to the Games as an American, representing Haiti in the 2008 Beijing Olympics before becoming a U.S. citizen.
"I am so ready for Rio," the new world champion added.
(Editing by John O'Brien)