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Saturday, August 28, 1999 Published at 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK

Red-faced relay runners crash out

Jamie Baulch battles on, but Britain miss out on a place in the final

Britain's relay runners suffered an embarrassing night in Seville, as both the men's and women's 4x400m teams failed to reach the World Championship finals.

Seville 99
Tactical errors were blamed for the elimination, after team bosses chose to rest star runners from both quartets.

But there was better news in the 4x100m relays, where both teams qualified for Sunday's finals.

John Rawling: "Britain's high-risk strategy now looks pretty dumb"
The failure of the men in the 4x400m was particularly galling, because Britain has a glorious traidition of success in the event.

But the decision to leave the strongest runner, Mark Richardson, out of the race proved fatal as the weakened team could only manage third place in their heat and failed to post one of the fastest loser's times.

Four-way flop

Jamie Baulch produced heroics on the final leg - but his stunning anchor run could not make up the ground that had been lost earlier in the contest.

[ image: Sinead Dudgeon takes Britain home in fourth place in their heat]
Sinead Dudgeon takes Britain home in fourth place in their heat
The make-up of the rest of the team - Geoff Dearman, Mark Hylton and Jared Deacon - showed that Britain did not have the strength in depth to rest Richardson.

"I knew I was going to have to do a lot of work," said Baulch, the world indoor champion and eighth in the outdoor final. "It was very hard because of the number of races I have had this week."

Katharine Merry sat out the women's event - and the outcome was the same.

The quartet of Donna Fraser, Helen Frost, Michelle Thomas and Sinead Dudgeon clocked 3:27.99 seconds to finish fourth in their semi-final.

Team manager Max Jones moved swiftly to defend the decision to rest both Richardson, sixth in the 400m final, and Merry, who this week became the first British woman to reach the individual final.

Semi strategy defended

"The strategy is to get a medal, not come last in the final," said Jones.

"Both Mark and Katharine would have enhanced our team in the semi-final.

"But had we reached the final they would not have been in good enough condition to race in it, particularly Katharine who has had as many 400m races in her life.

"We wanted them both to be fresh for the final and both Katharine and Mark fully endorsed the decision."

No mistake

Britain included both individual finalists in the men's 4x100m relay and Dwain Chambers, who won the bronze, and Jason Gardener ensured the quartet stormed into the final.

The foursome, also including European champion Darren Campbell and Allyn Condon, cruised to victory in their heat in 38.31 seconds to raise hopes of bringing the championships to a climax with a medal.

And there was joy as the women's sprint relay team of Marcia Richardson, Shani Anderson, Christine Bloomfield and Joice Maduaka also qualified as a fastest loser with a time of 43.31 seconds.

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