Amantle Montsho of Botswana competes in the Women's 400m Heats on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 3, 2012 in London, England (Getty Images) © Copyright

London 2012 - Event Report - Women's 400m Round 1

In an opening round that featured brief bouts of both steady rain and cloudless sunny skies, Briton Christine Ohuruogu began her Olympic title defence on a solid note to highlight the women’s 400m.

The competition, more specifically the introduction of the reigning champion, was kicked off by a vociferous ovation by the capacity crowd at Olympic Stadium that greeted each home team contestant on this opening session. And Ohuruogu responded admirably as she advanced easily to tomorrow evening’s semi-finals, finishing just behind Francena McCorory of the U.S. in the first of seven heats, 50.78 and 50.80 their respective times.

No surprises emerged with Amantle Montsho, the reigning World champion from Botswana, producing the fastest time of round 1, a comfortable 50.40 saunter in the second heat to finish more than half a second clear of runner-up Christine Day (51.05) and Briton Shana Cox (52.01) who also advanced.

"I’m feeling really good," said Montsho, who lowered her own national record to 49.54 this season.

A steady rain began to fall at the start of heat three where DeeDee Trotter of the U.S. and Jamaican Rosemarie Whyte dominated. Trotter, the runner-up at the U.S. trials, won in 50.87 just ahead of Whyte’s 50.90.

The brief rains subsided and the sun reappeared by the start of heat four, with 2009 World champion Sanya Richards-Ross taking the race comfortably. Carrying a big lead on the final turn, the 27-year-old U.S. record holder eased considerably over the final 50 metres en route to a 51.78 run.

"I got out hard for the first 200 metres and then save energy for the semi-finals," said Richards-Ross, who will also contest the 200m next week. "I’m confident – and that’s what you need to be a champion."

Carol Rodriguez of Puerto Rico and Tjipekapora Herunga of Namibia advanced as well finishing second and third.

Russian Antonina Krivoshapka, the world leader at 49.16, looked strong, winning the fifth heat in 50.75. Alina Lohvynenko of Ukraine was second in 52.08 with Lee McConnell (52.23) third, ensuring that Great Britain will field three women in the semi-finals.

Jamaican Novlene Williams-Mills (50.88) also dipped under 51 seconds to take the sixth heat ahead of Ukraine’s Nataliya Pyhyda (51.09, PB) and Italy’s Libania Grenot (52.13) who also advanced.

The World junior champion, Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas, was the main casualty of the round, pulling up injured about 150 metres into the second heat.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF