Rosemarie Whyte of Jamaica crosses the finish line and qualifies her team for the Women's 4 x 400m Relay final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright

London 2012 - Event Report - Women's 4x400m Relay Round One

The first 3 finishers in the two heats qualified automatically, with the next two fastest teams also progressing into tomorrow’s final.

First heat

This was a lot tighter than the Jamaicans, third in Beijing, might have expected and though they were never in any real danger they were constantly harried by an impressive Ukrainian quartet.

When the first lap handover was made the three teams in the outside lanes Germany (Cremer; lane 7), Nigeria (Omotosho; lane 8), and Italy (Bazzoni; lane 9) looked to have handed over first but it was the Jamaican squad (Day handing over to Lloyd) in the inside lane (2) who flew into the bend and by the time of the break out of lanes they were suddenly well in the lead followed by Nigeria (Out), Italy (Spacca), with France (Hurtis) and Ukraine (Lohvynenko) in a close bunch together.

These four came into the second change-over in a tight bunch hard on the heels of Jamaica. But when the batons were exchanged it was Jamaica who quickly broke away again, with the change being that Ukraine was now the single close pursuer. However, the latter’s effort (Yaroshchuk) was too great and towards the end of the back straight Nigeria (Abogunloko) and France (Gayot) were back on Ukraine’s shoulder, and they changed over as a bunch.

Jamaica out in the lead were stretching ahead and in the final lap (Whyte) they were not to be seriously challenged. Behind them Ukraine (Pyhyda) established some daylight again in second place but by the time they entered the home straight for the final time, Ukraine was again in three way battle with Nigeria (George) and France (Guei).

Jamaica came home clear in 3:25.13, with Ukraine holding on for second (3:25.90) and France just losing out in third (3:25.94), with Nigeria run out of an automatic spot but still fast enough (3:26.29) to qualify for the final. Belarus was a close fifth but missed out (3:26.52).

Second heat

At the first handover there was nothing to separate USA, the reigning champions, hosts GBR who were fifth in 2008, and Russia, the Beijing silver medallists, but it was quickly clear that the Russians were not happy to hold fire, for as Firova took the baton from Gushchina, she changed up a gear. Though the USA (McCorory) kept hold of the Russians confidently, Britain’s second leg Lee McConnell could not stand the pace and drifted off the back of the leaders to hold on to third in isolation, with their nearest challenger being the Czech Republic.

And this was how the rest of the race was to play out with these top four teams changing batons and retaining those positions well clear of the rest of the field for the remainder of the race, with only first and second left to be decided.

Into the last lap the battle between USA and Russia became an increasingly tight head to head with the USA’s baton in the hands of Deedee Trotter only gradually gaining some daylight between them and the Russians over the last 120 metres.

USA crossed in 3:22.09, with Russia brought home by Anastasiya Kapachinskaya, the former individual World champion, in 3:23.11.

The host nation was third as they had been for the majority of the race, finishing with the aid of Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu in 3:25.05, well clear of the Czech’s whose stick came home in 3:26.20 in the hands of Zuzana Hejnová the hurdles bronze medallist. The rest of the field were well adrift.

Chris Turner for the IAAF