In the first section, Russian champion Natalya Nazarova held the lead after 200 metres, with Bahamian Christine Amertil and defending champion Sandie Richards of Jamaica following.
Nazarova and Amertil pulled ahead on the final turn, as Richards began dropping back. On the final straight, Svetlana Usovich of Belarus (52.18) clipped the Jamaican (52.20), with Nazarova (50.90) and Amertil (51.11) already across the finish line, thus ensuring a new titlist will come from Sunday’s final.
The second semifinal was officially won by Germany’s Grit Breuer (51.56), ahead of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Catherine Murphy (51.74), after the apparent victor, Tonique Williams of Bahamas, was disqualified for a lane infraction.
Monique Hennagan of the US, originally fourth in the competition, was thus elevated to a qualifying spot with her 51.89, a time which appeared to get some help as the American received a sharp push in the back just at the finish.
Also drawing a red card in the section for a premature lane crossing was Russia’s Yuliya Pechonkina.