You cannot beat a good 4x400m relay for rousing the fans at the end of a track meet, and these two semi-finals certainly did that, with a spirited charge at qualification by the Japanese quartet in the second really getting the Osaka crowd, a full-house for the first time since last weekend, involved in the action.
Unfortunately for the host nation, and possibly for the atmosphere on the final day of the meeting on Sunday, too, the Japanese only managed fourth place in 3min 02.76sec, behind the largely second string United States quartet that included 400m Hurdles champion Kierron Clement and Darold Williamson (3:01.46), Germany (3:02.21) and Poland (3:02.39).
None of those times were as quick as the first four teams in the first heat, which was ultra-competitive from the off, and perhaps suggests that the Bahamas, already with two medals in the vault from Osaka, could be heading for a third.
The Bahamian quartet of McKinney, Mathieu, Brown and Williams led for most the race, a 44.49 third-leg split from Chris Brown proving decisive as the islanders beat their rivals from the Caribbean, Jamaica, 3:00.37 to 3:00.99, with Russia in the third automatic qualifying slot with 3:01.07.
Britain and the Dominican Republic had been duelling things out from the gun, and both clocked fast enough times to progress as fastest losers (3:01.22 and 3:02.49). Had Australia (3:02.59)had the fortune to be drawn in the later heat, they too, might have been in tomorrow’s final event of the championships.
Osaka 2007 News Team/sd