Slick changeovers helped the Japanese 4x100 team to a season’s best 39.59, ahead of this season’s world leaders Jamaica, who started very brightly but lost ground on the second exchange, finishing second in 39.90, just ahead of Botswana, a surprise package who ran an impressive 40.01, a new national record, ahead of Finland, who also set a national record with 40.58 in fourth. Two favoured teams, Australia and Greece, failed to qualify but Botswana advanced as one of two fastest losers.
The USA blasted a superb 38.96 – just a fraction off the championship record – to show as overwhelming favourites for the final. Nigeria pushed USA over the first part of the race, but they lost ground on the second bend, allowing Poland and Germany, whose exchanges were excellent, to surge past to claim the second and third places respectively. The Polish team went through as a fastest loser.
France, one of the strongest nations on paper, went out of the competition after a bungled final exchange between Chevrol and Bonnet. Up until the last 100m, the French had been in contention for gold, with Great Britain and Cyprus also combining fast sprinting with slick hand-overs. With the French out, the race for qualification was decided in favour of the Brits, who clocked a season’s best of 39.72, with Cyprus setting a national record of 40.44 and New Zealand finishing third with 40.64.