Great Britain escape carnage of 4x400m heats to safely progress to tomorrow’s final
Morning seven of the athletics programme at the Olympic Stadium was a quiet one on the British front, with the only home nation athletes in action being the men’s 4x400m relay team.
With high hopes of winning a medal in the final, the team of Nigel Levine, Conrad Williams, Jack Green and Martyn Rooney didn’t disappoint, finishing a close second to Trinidad and Tobago with both teams clocking 3:00.38.
Green showed he had bounced back well from the disappointment of falling in the semi-final of the 400m hurdles, recording one of the fastest splits of all the teams with 44.42. Although Bahamas and the United States ran quicker times in heat two – both recording 2:58.87, the fastest ever time in the heats at the Olympics – Great Britain can realistically challenge for a podium finish in the final tomorrow evening.
There was plenty of drama in the heats too. One of the South African runners, Ofentse Mogawane, collided with Kenya’s Vincent Kiilu and both fell to the floor. While Kiilu got back on his feet and continued, Mogawane was badly injured and was unable to finish. It meant that double amputee Oscar Pistorius, the third-leg runner for South Africa, was unable to run. But after an appeal, South Africa were given a spot in the final in the extra ninth lane.
The other heat was equally as dramatic. Jamaica saw their hopes of a medal disappear as Jermaine Gonzales pulled up injured. The Dominican Republic – helped by an impressive 44.19 anchor leg by teenager Luguelin Santos – initially grabbed one of the time qualifiers, but were later disqualified, so too were Venezuela.
The fastest splits of the round came from USA’s Tony McQuay with 43.65, Demetrius Pinder of the Bahamas with 43.7, Belgium’s Jonathan Borlee (44.1) and Santos (44.19).
The women’s high jump qualification got underway, with 1.93m proving sufficient to advance to the final. 2008 Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut of Belgium was safely through, with first-time clearances at every height.
The other main protagonists are likely to be European champion Ruth Beitia of Spain, world champion Anna Chicherova of Russia, and world indoor champion Chaunté Lowe, all of whom looked impressive in qualifying.
The decathlon continued, and world record-holder Ashton Eaton of the USA leads the way almost 100 points clear of team-mate Trey Hardee. The pair were the fastest two in the 110m hurdles, with Hardee clocking 13.54 to Eaton’s 13.56.
At this point, Eaton had a more than 200-point advantage over his team-mate, but that closed to just 99 after the discus as Eaton threw 42.53m to Hardee’s 48.26m. After a 5.20m clearance in the pole vault, Eaton looks on course to break the Olympic record en route to taking an almost guaranteed gold medal.
Hardee’s position in second place looks relatively safe, but the battle for bronze is going to be a close one between Belgian record-holder Hans Van Alphen, defending bronze medallist Leonel Suarez and Canada’s Damian Warner.