LONDON, England — Jamaica's women's 4x100m relay team eased into today's final after placing second in their semi-final heat to the Ukraine in a seasonbest 42.37 seconds as they seek their first medal since 2004 in Athens, Greece.
The team of Samantha Henry, Sherone Simpson, Schillonie Calvert and Kerron Stewart employed overly cautious baton changes, including the second handover which left a lot to be desired, to ensure a place in the medal round after a Jamaican team dropped the baton four years ago in Beijing, China.
Donald Quarrie, Jamaica's technical leader, told the Jamaica Observer last night that two changes would be made today, 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce would run the lead-off leg, while 100m bronze medallist Veronica Campbell Brown will run the third leg.
Last night Stewart, who just missed a place in the 100m final, said: “The objective was always to get to the final and so we ensured the changes were safe.” She added that it was always difficult for four runners who had never trained together to make changes, but they made sure they were safe.
Earlier in the evening, the USA women ran 41.634 seconds, the second fastest time in Olympic history to win their heat and will start favourites for the gold today.
Meanwhile, the preliminaries of the men's 4x100m and women's 4x400m will be run today as both teams seek places in the finals set for tomorrow, the final day of competition.
The women's 4x400m will contest the first of two semi-finals at 7:10 pm UK time (1:10 pm Jamaican time) in lane one, and will go up against Ukraine, Belarus, Cuba, France, Germany, Nigeria and Italy.
The preliminaries of the men's 4x100m come up 35 minutes later and it is expected that the team will be Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Kemar Bailey-Cole on anchor.
There was disaster in the men's 4x400m heats in the morning session as Jermaine Gonzales pulled up soon after he started the third leg with Jamaica in striking distance of a place in the final later today.
Despite Gonzales telling journalists earlier in the week after a poor first round of the individual 400m that he would not want to run, Quarrie told the Observer last night that the athlete was part of the decision to run in what they thought would be a tough heat that included the USA and The Bahamas.
“The decision was made with the best interest of Jamaica in mind,” Quarrie said. “We wanted to use the best team we had and Jermaine was part of the decision.”