It was third time lucky for the first race of the IAAF/BTC World Relays as, after two faulty starts, the eagerly awaited competition finally got under way in rousing fashion as hosts The Bahamas came through as the winners of the first heat in 3:02.18.
The 2014 World Relays silver medallists were challenged all the way by Brazil, who came home second in 3:02.23, put in contention after an outstanding opening leg by Pedro Luiz da Oliveira who was running blind throughout the entire race out in lane eight.
However, apart from briefly on the third leg, with The Bahamas fielding Alonzo Russell who may be replaced in the final by Chris Brown, the host nation controlled proceedings from the front and there was little doubt who would go through as the two automatic qualifiers for Sunday’s final, the hosts led home by their Olympic hero Ramon Miller.
The second heat was a much more competitive affair, despite the fact that the USA took a gun-to-tape victory in 3:02.81.
None of the Americans ever had more than a metre or so advantage as all sorts of drama unfolded behind them.
After good second and third legs by Teddy Atine-Venel and Thomas Jordier, France lay second at the final changeover but Botswana’s African 400m record-holder Isaac Makwala quickly overtook Mamoudou Hanne.
Makwala looked set to take Botswana through to the final but Jamaica’s inspired Javon Francis went through a selection of gears over the final 50 metres, flying home like a javelin, to go from fourth to second and take Jamaica through to the final in 3:02.81, where they will hope to atone for last year’s mishap when they dropped the baton.
Francis was timed for his leg in a stunning 44.01.
Botswana clocked 3:03.08, which was quick enough to see them through as one of the two non-automatic qualifiers.
The third heat went to form with Trinidad and Tobago winning in the quickest heat time of 3:02.09, pressed all the way by Belgium, who took second in 3:02.41.
George Caddick maintained Great Britain's third place position on the last leg to see them through to the final in 3:03.28.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF