Action in the opening round heats of the men's 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report London, UK

Report: men's 4x400m heats – IAAF World Championships London 2017

The United States qualified fastest for tomorrow night’s concluding event at these Championships, the men’s 4x400m final, in 2:59.23, the best time run in the world so far this season, with Trinidad and Tobago second fastest in 2:59.35 ahead of Belgium (2:59.47).

But the chances of Isaac Makwala - resting up ahead of the final after his exertions and solo time trials in the 200m - coming away from London with a medal disappeared when his Botswana colleagues Nijel Amos and 19-year-old Karabo Sibanda made a dog’s breakfast of the final changeover, with the younger man straying into the path of the incoming Brazilian runner and retrieving the fallen baton before setting off in a bid to catch the field.

Belgium beat the home quartet to the third automatic qualifying spot. But Britain, with 400m hurdler Jack Green in as a late replacement for Matthew Hudson Smith,  reached the final as one of the two non-automatic additions after clocking 3:00.10 in a heat that was significantly faster than the first, with France also being added after clocking 3:00.93.

“It was a surprise that Matthew dropped out,” said Britain’s last leg runner Martyn Rooney, the European champion. “He’s got his own issues but it’s all about the team and all the guys ran incredibly well. Jack was a great asset.”

The aptly named Wilbert London III got the US off to a strong start in the second heat, and by the time the lanes broke in the backstraight, second leg runner Bryshon Nellum had a clear lead from Trinidad and Tobago’s individual 200m bronze medallist Jereem Richards and Londoner Dwain Cowan.

The same order obtained at the final changeover as Michael Cherry, Machel Cedenio and Green all held their form.  Tony McQuay brought the baton home first for the US quartet, closely followed by Lalonde Gordon, but Rooney, who won European gold in 2014 and 2016, was passed for third place over the final 50m by Belgium’s Kevin Borlee, European 400m champion back in 2010.

“We are very confident going into tomorrow,” said Cherry. “As USA we want to go for the gold.”

Meanwhile Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio commented: “With Jareem in the team he is a great inspiration having go this medal and now we want to create history for him by helping him to get his second.”

Spain were winners of the opening heat in 3:01.72, with final leg runner Samuel Garcia looking over his shoulder with a touch of desperation as he approached the line, his 20 metres lead having been reduced to a couple of strides over the final 50 metres. But he did the job.

"I did not expect to be in front on the last leg,” said Garcia. “That was a surprise. I looked at the screen and saw us in first position. We had to control the race to be in the final. It was important to win this heat. I am so happy. We were strong and I was strong in the final metres.”

Closing fast in second place were Poland, who clocked 3:01.78 and Cuba, who recorded 3:01.88, after Yoandys Lescay won a desperate final battle with Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald,  with all three times being season’s bests.

Jamaica and India also ran season’s bests of, respectively, 3:01.98 and 3:02.80 but failed to progress.

The aptly named Wilbert London III got the US off to a strong start in the second heat, and by the time the lanes broke in the backstraight, second leg runner Bryshon Nellum had a clear lead from Trinidad and Tobago’s individual 200m bronze medallist Jereem Richards and Londoner Dwain Cowan.

The same order obtained at the final changeover as Michael Cherry, Machel Cedenio and Britain’s Jack Green held their form.  Tony McQuay brought the baton home first for the US quartet, closely followed by Lalonde Gordon, but Britain’s 2014 and 2016 European champion Martyn Rooney was passed for third place over the final 50 metres by Belgium’s Kevin Borlee, who was European 400m champion back in 2010.

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF

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