The first heat of the the 4x100m 1st round featured one of the biggest upsets of these championships. The United States relay team was unable to complete their first exchange. Brian Lewis ran the first leg for the U.S.A., but was unable to get the baton to Tim Montgomery after the second runner started too early and then stopped.
The first heat was won by Ghana in a national record of 38.41. The two others to earn automatic qualifying spots were Sweden, in 39.04, and Ukraine, in 39.32. Jamaica, a pre-race favourite for a medal, did not compete.
The second heat was a little faster with Brazil winning in a South American record of 38.31. Canada, also one of the candidates for a medal, was 2nd in 38.36. Third went to Japan in an Asian record of 38.44.
Great Britain made themselves one of the favourites, winning the 3rd heat in 38.47. France followed in 38.80, with Ivory Coast running to third place with their time of 38.81.
Cuba, one of the top countries in the medal standings, won heat 4 in 38.64. Greece earned second place with a national record of 38.74. Italy was third in 38.97.
Other national records included Slovenia 39.62, Liberia 39.90, Bahamas 39.09, Ireland 39.46 and Qatar 39.05.