USA take command amid the mishaps
After their men’s disastrous exit from the men’s semi-finals ealier in the evening, USA’s women were desperate to make amends in the women’s semis. The quartet of Angela Daigle, Muna Lee, Me’Lisa Barber and Lauryn Williams could certainly teach their male counterparts a thing or two about baton changing . . .
and the Bahamas . . . . and the Russians – previous winners of this event, neither of which will compete in tomorrow’s final after failing to get the baton round in this evening’s semis.
The women from the Caribbean, who were gold medallists in 1999, failed to get past the first change in the first heat when the experienced Chandra Sturrup tripped over her own feet as she pushed off and fell under Timicka Clarke, the first leg runner.
The Russians messed up at the last take over of the third heat when Irina Khabarova missed Larissa Kruglova’s hand, tried again, missed again, and then finally found it only once Kruglova had gone beyond the take over zone.
There were no such mishaps for the USA whose world 100m champion Lauryn Williams brought the baton home in heat one 20 metres clear of Nigeria’s Mercy Nku in 42.16.
A Swedish team containing heptathlete champion Carolina Kluft on the second leg, ran a national record of 43.67 for third, although it wasn’t quick enough to make the final.
Russia might not have won heat three anyway as Belarus were first in a national record of 42.80 ahead of Poland. They would surely have qualified though.
In the other heat, Christine Arron showed little signs of strain after the 200m final. She led the French Team home in 42.86 in the second heat after receiving the baton in third place, overtaking Brazil’s Luciana dos Santos and Jamaica’s Aleen Bailey.
Colombia, in the outside lane, also finished strongly and were rewarded with a national record of 43.03, good enough to qualify as a fastest loser.
No such luck for the hosts though. Finland had fancied their chances of making the final but on the last changeover Sari Keskitalo failed to get the baton to the Finnish anchor Heidi Hannula.