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4x400m team miss final in dramatic heats

9 August 2012

ATHLETICS: The Australian men’s 4x400 metre relay team have crossed the line in sixth, been elevated to fifth following a disqualification and just missed the final by two spots or 0.31 seconds in a drama filled two heats at the Olympic Stadium.

Led off by 400 metre individual finalist Steven Solomon, the 19-year-old ran a great leg and passed the baton to Ben Offereins equal in the lead with the Bahamas and the United States of America.

Offereins went out very fast for the first 150 metres to try and hold the lead with the Bahamas but paid for it in the back end and was swamped by the field passing to 400m hurdles semi-finalist Brendan Cole.

The Canberra runner ran a strong leg and passed two teams, and with an injury to the Jamaican third runner, handed the baton to John Steffensen in fifth with a lot of work to do. The Bahamas and the United States were well clear with teams battling for other placing and qualification.

Steffensen ran well and looked poised to strike on the second bend but the Russian Federation and Dominican Republic pulled away. The Dominican Republic team was later disqualified and although the Venezuelans were initially disqualified, which would have still left the Aussies out of the final, they were later reinstated leaving the Australian team in 10th overall. 

The Australians time of 3:03.17 was slower than fifth place in heat 1 – Poland in 3:02.86.

The Bahamas won with 2:58.87, the same time was also given to the Americans.

One of the favourites for the event Jamaica were forced out on the third leg with an injury to Jermaine Gonzales on the back straight.

“The boys did very well, this is relay running, it's track and field running and you have to prepare yourselves for the highs and the lows," said Steffenson.

“The whole team is very supportive. The team never has a problem with each other.”

Australia's first finalist in the individual 400m since 1988, Solomon admitted the event had taken it out of him.

“I was a little bit drained but I ran really well out there and felt better than I did in the heats, semi finals and final (in the 400m)," he said.

“We had some tough changes. Once you’re in that final position you can gain so much off them and lose so much off them so unfortunately we had a bit of trouble in our changes today but thats a learning curve we can take into future relays."

In heat 1, the second South African athlete went down leading into the home straight without getting to the changeover with Oscar Pistorius. Trinidad and Tobago and Great Britain crossed the line in 3:00.38.   

Andrew Reid in London

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