Novlene Williams-Mills anchors Jamaica in the 4x400m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: women's 4x400m heats – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

There were no significant baton blunders or disqualifications in the women’s 4x400m heats, but there will be one or two notable omissions from the final.

Defending champions USA dominated the first heat. NCAA champion Courtney Okolo got the team off to a strong start, covering her leg in 50.7. She handed over to Taylor Ellis-Watson, and the team had a 1.48-second lead by half way.

Behind them, Ukraine was battling with Poland. The Ukrainian runners would get ahead of the Poles at the start of their legs, only for the Polish runners – namely Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz and Iga Baumgart – to finish strongly and regain the advantage.

USA were away and safe, though, thanks to a 49.68 split from Francena McCorory. The 2014 world indoor champion handed over to Phyllis Francis, who cruised around in 50.53 to stop the clock at 3:21.42.

On the final leg, Ukraine’s Olha Zemlyak managed to open up a gap on Poland’s Justyna Swiety to place second in a season’s best of 3:24.54. Poland’s 3:25.34 in third place was their fastest time since the 2005 IAAF World Championships.

Australia was in close contact with Poland for most of the race. A 50.97 anchor split from Morgan Mitchell brought them home in 3:25.71, their fastest time since the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Australia’s time was enough to advance as a non-automatic qualifying performance, but France – despite a 49.76 anchor from Floria Guei – missed out, the 2014 European champions clocking 3:26.18.

World champions Jamaica won the second heat in similarly dominant fashion to the USA.

Carline Muir gave Canada an early lead, clocking 51.3. But a 49.9 split from Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby put Jamaica into the lead. Great Britain was in second place after Anyika Onuora ran 50.3 on the second leg.

Chrisann Gordon extended Jamaica’s lead on the third leg before handing over to Novlene Williams-Mills, who brought the team home in 3:22.38.

Kelly Massey opened up a gap for Great Britain over Canada, and then handed the baton to two-time world champion Christine Ohuruogu, who held off challenges from Canada’s Sage Watson and Italy’s European champion Libania Grenot on the final leg, clocking 3:24.81.

Canada qualified by right with their 3:24.94 performance, their fastest time since 1987, while Italy set a national record of 3:25.16 to make it through to the final as a non-automatic qualifier.

Germany, fifth in 3:26.02, will play no part in the final. The Bahamas had hoped to qualify without Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller on their team, perhaps hoping to save her for the final. They set a national record of 3:26.36, but it was only good enough for sixth in their heat.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF