The USA showed that they will be the team to beat in the women’s 4x400m after a storming run of 3:23.84 to win the second of two heats.
The experienced Deedee Trotter handed over in the lead at the end of the first leg but Sanya Richards-Ross, who has three Olympic 4x400m gold medals to her name as well as multiple individual honours, did the damage on the second leg and put the US team into a 30-metre lead.
Monica Hargrove and Jessica Beard then had little problem staying in pole position all the way to the line, although Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer closed well on the final leg to bring her team home in 2:24.95 and advertise to the USA that, although they will be the favourites, they will not be able to relax too much.
Great Britain took the third automatic qualifying spot in the second heat in 3:27.30.
Nigeria took full advantage of the late withdrawal of world champions Russia to put together an emphatic win in the first heat with a win in 3:27.07.
Folasade Abugan had a marginal lead at the end of the first leg but her team mate Regina George ran an outstanding second stint, establishing a 30-metre lead, leaving Bukola Abogunloko and Patience Okon George the relatively easy task of completing the job.
Brazil won a three-way battle on the last lap to take second place in 3:30.37.
There was disappointment for the home crowd as The Bahamas dropped the baton on the second leg and although they finished the race down in sixth, they failed to make Sunday’s final.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF