18 AUG 2013 Report Moscow, Russia

Report: Women's 4x100m Relay heats – Moscow 2013

English Gardner in the womens 4x100m Relay at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images)English Gardner in the womens 4x100m Relay at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright

Once again, just like at the 2011 World Championships and London 2012 Olympic Games, the destination of the women’s 4x100m Relay gold medal looks set to be fought over by the USA and Jamaican teams, with both nations stamping their mark on the event in the heats as the only quartets to go under 42 seconds.

Even though the Jamaican team was without the sprint double winner, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, slick baton changing brought them home well clear in the first heat, crossing the line in an impressive 41.87.

France, sporting the European junior 100m champion Stella Akakpo on the anchor leg, was a distant second but still looked well-practised even if they did not have the speed of their Caribbean rivals in their legs and they finished second in 42.25.

The second heat on the track was much more closely contested with The Bahamas, led home by their 37-year-old 2000 Olympic Games 4x100m Relay gold medallist Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie initially crossing the line first, just ahead of Great Britain.

However, Bahamas were subsequently disqualified for a lane violation and Great Britain were adjudged to be the winner in 42.75 with Canada taking the second automatic qualifying sport in a national record of 42.99.

The big surprise was that 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallists Ukraine for once had baton-passing problems and could only finish third in 43.12 and did not progress. It will be little consolation that they clocked the fastest time by an eliminated team in the history of the IAAF World Championships.

Led off by Jeneba Tarmoh, and followed by Alexandria Anderson, English Gardner and Octavious Freeman, the top three in the 100m at the US Championships, the USA showed what they were capable off when winning the third and final heat in 41.82.

Brazil surprised to take second place behind the USA in a South American record of 42.29, while Russia and Trinidad and Tobago finished third and fourth in 42.94 and 43.01 respectively. Although that will see them through to the final, both teams' hand-overs were far from perfect and they will need to improve in the final if they are going to challenge for a medal, which would presumably be the bronze if the USA and Jamaica run to form.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF