With both heats and final of the men’s 4x100m taking place in the same session, the goal was very simple – pass the baton around cleanly and advance to the final.
Yet with just the first two from each of the three heats and the next two fastest advancing it would allow for little margin for error for many of 23 competing teams.
Jamaica, minus Usain Bolt who was keeping his powder dry for the final, did advance from heat one but were slightly surprisingly defeated by Great Britain into first.
Nesta Carter gave Jamaica a blistering start on the first leg but Great Britain, running in lane one – on the immediate inside of their Caribbean rivals – never let their opponents out of their sight and a splendid final leg by Dwain Chambers delivered them the heat win in a season’s best 38.12. A further 0.05 down were Jamaica, who will surely form a more formidable threat in the final.
Olympic bronze medallists Trinidad and Tobago finished third in 38.35 – and after an anxious wait will take their place as one of the two next fastest.
Notable national records were set by Spain (38.46) in fourth and Korea (39.00) in sixth.
In heat two, the USA suffered a ‘heart in the mouth moment’ when there appeared to be a fumble between the third and anchor leg runners, Rakieem Salaam and Justin Gatlin. Thankfully, for the USA, who held a sizeable lead, Gatlin managed to cling on to the baton. They survived their moment of drama and recovered to take the heat win in 38.06. Mission accomplished.
Behind, Japan – who finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games – grabbed second spot in an impressive 38.23.
Ukraine in third with 38.57 did not do enough to qualify as one the two next fastest. Barbados set a national record of 38.94 for fourth and there was disappointment for France, the 2011 World silver medallists, who were back in seventh (38.97).
Germany, who have quietly impressed with their sprint relay quartet this season, powered to an impressive heat win in a season’s best 38.13. In fact, the first five teams all posted their quickest times for 2013 and down in sixth Bahamas set a national record 38.70.
Lucas Jakubczyk gave Germany an impressive start and it was a lead they never relinquished. Canada finishing strongly with the help of anchor Justyn Warner to take the second and final automatic qualification spot in 38.29.
European champions The Netherlands also advanced as one of the two next fastest in 38.41 for third with Italy (38.49) and St Kitts and Nevis (38.58) in fourth and fifth, respectively playing no further part in the competition. Australia failed to finish.
Steve Landells for the IAAF