Well the 4x400m was full of surprises, but a lane violation in the 4x400m? Stuart Weir explains it all…
4 by 400 meters relays
After the shuttles, 2 +2 X 400 and the 2 by 200 relays it was almost a relief to come to “proper”, tried and tested, four lap relays. Let’s start with the men. From my side of the pond, the strength in depth of US “quarter milers” is awesome. At last year’s World Cup there were three college kids in the US team and they still won comfortably. So in the World Relays, what could possibly go wrong?
Nathan Strother, Fred Kerley and Michael Cherry had the team in the lead with one lap to go but those pesky Trinidad & Tobago runners would not go away. On the final lap Machel Cedenio closed the gap on US anchor Paul Dedewo and got to the line first despite Dedewo’s dive. The US men’s plight then went from bad to worse when they were disqualified for a lane violation.
Then to go from worse to plain annoying, the qualification rules for Doha were clarified. On the first day we were reporting that there were 10 places in the men’s and women’s 4 by 400 relay at the 2019 World Championships to be awarded to the top 10 teams. The top eight in the heats secured their qualification by reaching the final. Not so, the top eight to finish would qualify for Doha. The disqualification means that US men have still to earn their place in Doha.
B finals are often regarded as a waste of space, necessary only to pad the schedule a little. But with 10 qualifying places the B finals gave the top two a ticket to Doha. Italy were first and France second – and following the disqualification of the U.S.- third place Czech Republic are also confirmed for Doha.
After the race reaction: Michael Cherry, USA “We tried to give Paul enough lead, but it just didn’t happen today. We have a long history in the quarter mile, and always try our best, and win gold every single time. It didn’t happen today”.
Jereem Richards Trinidad. “It was a great feeling to come out here and get Gold. We knew we have abilities to do this and we did it. Great feelings. This is a very young team, and we got gold. Atmosphere was great. Coming to Japan, we got nothing less than we got in here. They gave us a drive we needed. I love Japan”.
While not wishing to pxxx on anyone’s parade, I hope that Jereem enjoyed his virtual gold as, my understanding is, but no actual medals are awarded. Or as Britain’s Martyn Rooney put it in the mixed zone: “Today was just to make a bit of cash”. Perhaps Jereem was referring to a pot of gold, rather than a medal of gold!
Throughout the two days the big screen has kept showing vintage relay moments, most of them seem to involve Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross taking the US to victory. Where were Felix and Richards-Ross when you need them? The US quartet of Jaide Stepter, Shakima Wimbley, Jessica Beard and Courtney Okolo clocked 3:27.49 but the impressive polish team, reigning European champions, anchored by the outstanding Justyna Swiety-Ersetic finished 0.16 seconds ahead of them. All eight women’s team got the stick around and secured world championship qualification along with the Netherlands and Belgium from the B final. I loved the flash quote from Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz: “We can’t believe what happened when the last runner if came to the line. We have to have fun right now”. Hope Wyciszkiewicz was not delayed signing autographs – they could take some time!
USA did win the mixed relay with a team of My’Lik Kerley, Joanna Atkins, Jasmine Blocker and Dontavius Wright in 3:16.43. It was quite a boring race with all eight teams opting for a MWWM formation. With no B final and probably no more elite mixed relays in the foreseeable future the top 12 teams in day 1 heats are qualified for Doha.
Familiar races but was unexpected outcomes.