Canada is off to the finals.
The men’s 4x100 relay team of Gavin Smellie, Seyi Smith, Jared Connaughton and Justyn Warner put up a season best time of 38.05 seconds on Friday to finish second in its heat and advance to Saturday’s finals.
Jamaica won the heat in 37.39 and that was even with Usain Bolt sitting the heat out.
Great Britain was originally second but disqualified soon after the race, believed to be for exchanging the baton outside of the designated zone.
Based on the times posted by all eight countries, it was the fastest relay ever.
“We’ve got a lot more in us,” Warner said. “Tomorrow we’ve just got to execute, that’s all it is. We’re coming here expecting a medal, and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
"That's like a B-plus," Connaughton said. "There's lots of room for improvement."
The other teams that advanced to the final were the United States (which had the fastest time overall between the two heats), Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, France, Australia and the Netherlands.
Overall, Canada’s time was third best of all the teams qualifying, narrowly ahead of Japan and Trinidad and Tobago, who will likely be the main competition for bronze if Jamaica and the U.S. perform as expected.
Canada finished sixth in the relay in Beijing but has only Connaughton returning from that team.
The group is coached by Glenroy Gilbert, who famously won gold with Canada’s stacked 4x100 relay team (with Robert Esmie, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey) at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
“That was a very good run,” Gilbert said. “It’s something they’ve been capable of doing for a while. Simply a matter of getting it done when it counted. They did that in the heat.
“We’re going to sit down and discuss the strategy. We’ve got to get out there and even better because I think the final’s going to be really hot.”