This is Stuart Weir’s column on the relays, the 4x400m heats, and the 4x100m finals.
Athletics is an individual sport – except for relays when 4 athletes come together to compete as a team. Athletes love the idea of winning together. Equally, it is an opportunity to share a disaster. There are men’s and women’s 4 by 100 and 4 by 400, traditionally at the end of the program. Thursday had seen the 100 prelims, and already three countries were eliminated for failed baton changes.
Friday saw the prelims of the men’s and women’s 4 by 400. My first shock was to see Allyson Felix on the American team. Allyson had run the mixed relay, and we were told that her Champs were over and that she had gone home. Then a phone call asking her to come back. She ran well, and the USA made the final.
The Netherlands managed to drop the baton, losing all momentum, leaving them well behind, in about sixth place. Femke Bol was on the last leg, and she did the seemingly impossible, making up all the distance to take the Netherlands into a qualifying position. Then it was announced that the Netherlands has been disqualified.
The two sprint relay finals were really exciting. The result of the women was
1 USA 41.14
2 Jamaica 41.18
3 Germany 42.03
The USA team was the relatively inexperienced quartet of Jefferson, Steiner, Terry, and the experienced Jenna Prandini. Incidentally, Prandini, we were told, is a Duck! I wonder how our international colleagues translated that! Against them were the 1-2-3 in the women’s 100 – Fraser-Price, Thompson-Herah, and Jackson but the Americans held on to win by 4/100ths of a second.
I will probably lose some American friends with this comment, but I found the US team interviews broadcast to the crowd somewhat graceless. The Americans won by 0.04 secs. An acknowledgment of the Jamaicans would have been nice alongside the emphasis on getting the job done. There was great British disappointment when the team, in a medal position, saw Dina Asher-Smith pull up with an injury.
The men’s sprint relays saw Canada pull off a surprise victory over the USA by 0,07 seconds. A day that had started with Nia Ali falling in the hurdles ended with her partner, Andre de Grasse, winning gold. GB took bronze.
The program for the final day ends, as it should, with the two 4 by 400 relays.
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