Dina Asher-Smith, of Great Britain, Dezerea Bryant, of the United States, and Tynia Gaither, of Bahamas, from left to right, compete in the women's 200 meter heats during the World Athletics Championships in Doha on Monday. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Doha – Britain's Dina Asher-Smith hardly broke sweat on Monday at the world athletics championships as she led the way in the 200 metres heats, where she is emerging as a favourite.

Less than 24 hours after claiming 100m silver, the European champion won her heat in 22.32 seconds, easing up far ahead of the finish line. She was one-hundredth of a second ahead of American Brittany Brown, who had given it her all for a personal best.

Asher-Smith is now being tipped as a favourite, as two-time defending champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands withdrew injured, 100m silver-medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast did not start, and season-leader Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas has chosen the 400m in Doha.

But Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica was among those who joined Asher-Smith into Tuesday's semis in front of another sparse crowd, although Qatar has a big medal hope in 400m hurdler Abderrahman Samba later in the night in the last of six finals.

Qatari organizers, meanwhile, responded to growing criticism from past and present athletes on the large number of empty seats, blaming them on the finals' being late in the evening to cater for a global television audience.

"The challenge we face with a competition schedule that is geared to support global TV viewership, is that some finals are not starting until the late evening. This impacts on the number of spectators remaining until the end of the session," a spokesperson said in a statement.