“We are going out there to do our best, and we know that our best will be good enough”! Those were the words spoken by a member of Jamaica’s 4x400m women’s team, Shericka Jackson a day before the final, and true to her prediction, the team’s best got them a GOLD medal ahead of a first class USA squad that had been tipped to win the event.
Despite having four of the world’s Top. 10 fastest women in 2015 in their squad, USA suffered another bitter defeat in the hands of their fellow North American rivals, making it the second consecutive time they have lost the crown, after Russia beat them to GOLD in Moscow two years ago. Winning the women’s 4x400m race had already been regarded as a birthright of some sorts of the American team, having won the event six times in the history of the championships.
However, their Jamaican opponents refused to be intimidated by these credentials as Jackson (who won Bronze in the 400m a few days earlier) combined forces with team mates Christine Day, Stephenie Ann McPherson and Novlene Williams-Mills to clock a World Lead of 3:13.19, which gave them the victory.
This win made it three out of four victories in the relays for Jamaica at the just concluded 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, having beaten the USA to take GOLD in the men and women’s 4x100m events. The Americans will be wondering where they went wrong, and will need to re-strategize ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics and London 2017 World Championships.
The determination of the Caribbeans was not in doubt, as Day (50.5s) took off in the first leg, leveling up to Olympic champion, Sanya Richards-Ross (51.5s), and former world title holder, Christine Ohuruogu (51.3s), before taking the lead and handing over to Jackson (49.4s). USA’s Natasha Hastings (50.4s) found it a bit difficult keeping up with Jackson, who went clear, widening the gap between her and the rest of the field.
Anyika Onuora ran a brilliant second leg for Great Britain to bring them back into contention for a medal, running a split of 51.0s. MacPherson continued the dominance for Team Jamaica, clocking 50.19s in her split. But then the baton had been handed over to the newly crowned 400m World Champion, Allyson Felix, who outclassed the rest of the field, overtaking McPherson and putting USA in the lead.
The three-time 200m World Champion ran a scorching split of 47.72s, which was way faster than any time recorded at the Beijing World Championships. It is also the third fastest split in the history of the women’s 4x400m event! She passed on the baton to anchor leg, Francena McCorory, giving the former world leader a wonderful platform to consolidate on, and berth with a GOLD medal for the USA.
McCorory stuck to the plan, but only for a while, before running out of steam with about 10m to go. That was the perfect opportunity for 2014 Diamond race winner, Williams-Mills to strike, as she overtook the American, helping Jamaica recover from the scintillating performance of Felix to coast home to victory, with the USA following with 3:19.44.
Great Britain finished in 3rd, settling for the same position from two years ago. They returned a time of 3:23.62, which is a Season’s Best (SB) for the team. Defending champions Russia placed 4th in 3:24.84, as Ukraine, France and Canada secured 6th, 7th and 8th positions respectively. The search for Africa’s first ever medallist in the women’s 4x400m at the World Championships continues as Nigeria finished 5th in the final in 3:25.11.
This is the fourth consecutive final for the 4x400m women’s team at the worlds. The quartet of Regina George, Funke Oladoye, Tosin Adeloye and Patience Okon George put up a commendable performance, but it wasn’t enough to get them a medal. They clocked an impressive SB of 3:23.27 to win their heat a day earlier. Incidentally, the time would have gotten them the 3rd position, as it was faster Great Britain’s Bronze medal-winning time of 3:23.62.