The 33-year-old McConnell is expected to retire after the Games but would dearly love to bow out on a high note especially if she can also confirm her right to a place in the 4x400 metres relay team who are expected to bid for medals.
The long-striding Glaswegian, who was first a high jumper and then a world-class 400m hurdler before injury intervened, was third in heat five of the six first round heats yesterday, automatically qualifying for the next stage and was slightly surprised not to have to work harder.
Her time of 52.23 secs easing down was not too far outside her season’s best of 51.98 with times surprisingly slow on what is considered a fast track.
“I felt okay and I think I can go faster in the semi-finals,” said McConnell, a past individual medallist in both 400m and 400m hurdles at European and Commonwealth whose best Olympic place was sixth in the 2008 semi-finals in Beijing.
“The crowd were unbelievable – to think that you could have 80,000 people in there and 99 per cent of them are shouting for you.”
McConnell, who was only fifth fastest on paper, was helped by the poor form of the Swedish European champion Moa Hjelman Svede, who could manage only 52.86 for fourth.
The heat winner Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia set off at a furious pace before easing back near the line to clock 50.75, marginally faster than GB’s defending Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu (50.80), who was just pipped in heat one by Francene McCorory (USA), while world champion Amantle Montsho (Botswana) won heat two in 50.50 with GB’s Shana Cox qualifying in third place in 51.01.