By Mathieu Gentès  – Athletics Canada

LONDON, UK – The Canadian men’s 4×100-metres relay team finished second in their heat to automatically qualify for tomorrow evening’s final. The combination of Gavin Smellie of Etobicoke, Ont., Seyi Smith of Ottawa, Ont., Jared Connaughton of New Haven, P.E.I., and Justyn Warner of Markham, Ont., clocked a seasonal best time of 38.05 seconds

Initial results had Canada in third place behind Jamaica and Great Britain however Great Britain was disqualified for an illegal exchange.  Canada posted the third fastest qualifying time behind the United States and Jamaica. The final is set for Saturday at 21:00 local time (16:00 eastern time).

National team sprint and relay coach Glenroy Gilbert spoke after the race to the assembled media, “I knew the guys were capable of a time like this and I know they can go even lower. The goal today was to come out and qualify for the final. Now they’re in and if we can clean up a few small things we can definitely be in the mix for a medal.”  Gilbert adds, “It’s a real pressure cooker out there, these guys are handling the baton with blind passes and trying to hit their marks. They did a great job and some of the nerves will be off tomorrow.”

Relay veteran and Olympic team co-captain Jared Connaughton, “There’s still a lot of room for improvement, we’re obviously happy with the time and Gavin set us up great. Tomorrow we’re going to take care of business, we’re ready to execute even better and get a medal.”

Justyn Warner comments on the performance, “We’re coming for a medal tomorrow, Canadian sprinting isn’t getting a lot respect, we want to come here tomorrow, get a medal and send a message because nobody is expecting it. It doesn’t matter who the four guys are, we’re a team and we’re running to represent Canada. Our goal was to get through the first round and we did that.”

Other Canadians in action tomorrow

Rachel Seaman of Petebrough, Ont., will race in the women’s 20-kilometre race walk tomorrow evening at 17:00 local time (12:00 eastern time). Seaman holds the Canadian record in this event with a time of 1:33:05.

Black Creek, B.C.’s Cameron Levins will line up in the men’s 5,000-metres final tomorrow at 19:30 local time (14:30 eastern time). Levins is the first Canadian to take part in a 5000-metre final at the Olympic Games since Alex Decoteau did it in 1912.  This event is Cameron’s second at the 2012 Olympic Games, he finished 11th overall earlier this week in the 10,000-metres.

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Mathieu Gentès