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Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 12:55 UK

GB 400m relay teams reach final

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Video - GB 4x400m women cut it very fine

Great Britain's 4x400m relay teams qualified for Saturday's finals with mixed performances in Beijing.

Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu survived a scare on the anchor leg but helped the women advance.

Marilyn Okoro passed the baton on to anchor runner Ohuruogu in second place but she had to dive for the line to claim third just ahead of Germany.

Martyn Rooney returned one day after finishing sixth in the 400m final to qualify the men in first place.

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Video - GB 4x400m men qualify in style

Nicola Sanders had got the women's team off to a brilliant start, handing on the baton first to heptathlete Kelly Sotherton as the team qualified in three minutes 25.48 seconds.

"I was just told to qualify so I was taking it easy - but I didn't see the German," explained Ohuruogu after the race.

Sanders, who ran an opening first-leg split of 50.80 secs, said: "I was a little bit nervous but I was pleased to give Kelly a good position."

Sotherton, who is competing with hurdler Tasha Danvers for a place in the final, added: "I was so scared of messing it up but I did the job."

Lee McConnell, who reached the 400m individual semi-finals, pulled out of the relay team because of an injury.

The 29-year-old is thought to have suffered a quad muscle tear in her right leg during the second round of the individual 400m competition.

Russia won the first heat in 3:23.71 ahead of Cuba with Britain squeezing the final qualifying spot ahead of Germany.

The American defending champions delivered a very strong performance to win the second heat in 3:22.45 ahead of Jamaica and Belarus.

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And those three squads recorded faster times than the three qualifiers from the first heat.

Britain's men were the fastest qualifiers in the men's heats as the quartet of Andrew Steele, Rob Tobin, American-born Michael Bingham and Rooney got the baton round in 2:59.33.

Rooney celebrated as he crossed the line ahead of Bahamas and Jamaica but most of Britain's rival teams will have stronger athletes coming in for the final.

"It was good fun out there," said Rooney. "I've never been in front in a relay so I didn't know what to do.

"I felt fresh so I'm happy. I like the competition, we will go out and do better tomorrow because we were jogging today."

Steele added: "We have a strong team and there's a lot of heart here."

The American men, running without their three individual 400m medallists, stormed to victory in the first heat crossing the line in 2:59.95.

Russia came home strongly in second ahead of Belgium, who just squeezed out Australia.




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see also
Ohuruogu storms into 400m final
17 Aug 08 |  Athletics
GB & US both out of sprint relay
21 Aug 08 |  Athletics
BBC Olympics blog
15 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Find your local athletics club
13 Oct 05 |  Get Involved


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