Jamaica's Kerron Stewart in the women's 4x100m relay heats in the Berlin Olympic Stadium (Getty Images) © Copyright
With Caribbean quartets occupying four of the six lanes, the first heat was on paper a battle between islanders, but in reality another illustration of Jamaican sprint supremacy that has come to define these championships. Before her hand-off to second leg Shelly-Ann Fraser, the 100m champion, Simone Facey had already built a noticeable lead over Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas, one that Aleen Bailey and 100m silver medallist Kerron Stewart extended significantly before the latter reached the line in 41.88, exceptionally fast for a non-final, and by far the fastest of the late afternoon.
The Bahamians, anchored by 200m bronze medallist Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, were an equally dominant second, clocking 42.66.
While they enjoyed their Trinidad and Tobago national record 43.22 in third, Reyare Thomas, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Ayanna Hutchinson, Semoy Hackett had to wait it out until the conclusion of the third heat before securing a spot in the final based on time.
That third heat brought the drama where yet again, a U.S. sprint relay outing was synonymous with disaster. Lauryn Williams and Alexandria Anderson built a hefty advantage over the first two legs, but disaster struck on the exchange to third leg Muna Lee who appeared to stumble as she was reaching for the baton before tumbling to the track, clutching her left hamstring. As in Beijing last year, the two-time defending World champions were out.
Meanwhile and by default, Aleksandra Fedoriva gave third leg Yulya Gushchina the lead but the Brazilian quartet, anchored by Vanda Gomes, took the win, 43.07 to 43.18 over the reigning Olympic champions.
Pumping up the sell-out Olympic stadium crowd, the German squad won a competitive second heat to move ahead to the evening’s final by right. It was Anne Mollinger, the national indoor 200m champion running the second leg, who gave the host team an early advantage which they would never lose. Anchor Verena Sailer brought the team to the line in 42.96, well ahead of a Colombian (43.30) quartet who will contest their third World championships final.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, third in the fast first heat, clocked 43.34 and will move on as well.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF