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Olympics-Athletics-Poland top 4x400 mixed relay heats as US disqualified

The mixed 4x400m relay made its Olympic debut in Tokyo amid controversy on the opening day of the athletics programme on Friday with Poland topping the time sheets in the heats after the United States team were disqualified.

TOKYO: The mixed 4x400m relay made its Olympic debut in Tokyo amid controversy on the opening day of the athletics programme on Friday with Poland topping the time sheets in the heats after the United States team were disqualified.

The discipline, featuring teams of two men and two women competing against each other in any order they choose, would have been a crowd favourite with its unique and unpredictable format.

But it was left to team members to cheer on the other athletes at the Olympic Stadium in the absence of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American team, comprising Elija Godwin, Lynna Irby, Taylor Manson and Bryce Deadmon, finished fastest in the first heat but the were later disqualified for handing the baton over outside the changeover zone.

Dominican Republic were also disqualified, although they had finished outside the qualifying places for Saturday's final.

Netherlands finished second behind the Polish team of Dariusz Kowaluk, Iga Baumgart-Witan, Malgorzata Holub-Kowalik and Kajetan Duszynski, who clocked 3:10.44. Jamaica qualified in third place overall.

While teams can select any order for their athletes, most have chosen to go with a male lead-off runner, followed by two women over the next two laps, and a man running the anchor leg of the relay.

Nigeria were the only team to mix things up by putting a male runner on the third leg during the first heat.

Samson Nathaniel gave Patience Okon George a lead of about 30 metres but the Nigerian woman was comfortably passed by all the men in the final leg of the relay.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: Reuters

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