English Gardner ran the third leg for the U.S. 400-meter relay team Wednesday evening at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, helping the United States team advance to Saturday’s final with the second-fastest qualifying time.
Racing in the first of two semifinals, the U.S. ran 41.90, the fastest time by any U.S. 4-by-1 since 2017, when an American team ran 41.82 to win the World Championships in London.
Gardner, gold medalist on the United States 400-meter relay win in Rio in 2016, was named to the U.S. relay pool after reaching the final of the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She has a 100-meter dash PR of 10.74, which she ran twice at the 2016 Trials in Eugene.
The 400-meter relay heats took place Wednesday evening on the East Coast but Thursday morning in Tokyo.
Javianne Oliver led off for the U.S., followed by Teanna Daniels, Gardner and Aleia Hobbs. Gabby Thomas and Jenna Prandini are expected to replace Gardner and Hobbs in the final. But if the U.S. medals, Gardner and Hobbs will receive the same medals as the four sprinters in the final because they ran in the rounds.
Racing in 90-degree heat, the U.S. placed second to Great Britain, which won the heat in a national-record 41.55. The top three in each of two races along with the next two-fastest teams advanced to the final. Both small-q qualifiers came from the first race. Germany won the second semifinal in 42.00.
The Great Britain and U.S. teams ran the two-fastest times in the world this year. As the top two seeds, Great Britain will race in Lane 5 in the final with the U.S. in Lane 6. Favored Jamaica, which struggled to a 42.15 in the first semifinal, will be out in Lane 8. Here are the official lane assignments.
Here are the qualifiers for the final:
41.55 … Great Britain [heat 1]
41.90 … United States [heat 1]
42.00 … Germany [heat 2]
42.05 … Switzerland [heat 2]
42.15 … Jamaica [heat 1]
42.68 … France [heat 1]
42.81 … Netherlands [heat 1]
42.82 … People’s Republic of China [heat 2]
The final is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. Friday in Tokyo, which is 9:30 a.m. Friday here.