Strong runs by US and Jamaican quartets in the women's 4x200m kicked off the third edition of the IAAF World Relays, setting up yet another showdown between the two sprint powerhouses in this evening's final.
In the first heat, Dezerea Bryant and Tiffany Townsend combined to give the US a small but visible lead over France after the opening 400 metres, one padded by Felicia Brown with a solid leg three.
The surprise of the race – and the opening round – came in the form of Lisa Mayer who lifted an inspired German team with her anchor dash. Instead of watching US anchor Phyllis Francis pull away, the 20-year-old German caught and eventually passed the Olympic 4x400m champion. After a stride-for-stride battle over much of the homestretch, Francis eventually pulled away to edge her German rival by just .10 in 1:31.06.
Further back, Michelle-Lee Ahye closed well for Trinidad and Tobago, overtaking French anchor Estelle Perrossier off the final bend to finish third in 1:32.62, a national record.
Even with a sluggish first exchange between Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson – who received the round's most vociferous welcome from the Thomas A Robinson Stadium crowd – and Olympic 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, the Jamaican quartet were never seriously threatened en route to their 1:31.29 victory in the second heat.
Defending champions Nigeria finished a distant second in 1:33.78 with China a few strides further back in third, crossing the line in 1:33.99 to break the Asian record. The British Virgin Islands were fourth in 1:34.92, a national record run that propelled them to the final as well.
With just nine teams competing, the Kenyan quartet was the only squad eliminated. Nonetheless, their 1:40.65 effort was also a national record.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF