Golden finish for Jamaica
4x100m men bring curtains down on World Relays in style
THE Jamaican men proved they are still the kings of speed as they closed yesterday's inaugural IAAF World Relays at the Thomas A Robinson stadium in Nassau, Bahamas, by winning the blue ribbon 4x100m in 37.77 seconds.
Even without the speed of triple world record holder Usain Bolt, the team of Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake ensured Jamaica's sixth consecutive global 4x100m title.
Jamaican men's teams with Bolt had won the previous five global 4x100m races dating back to 2008 at the Olympics Games in Beijing, China; World Championships in Berlin, Germany in 2009 and Daegu, South Korea in 2011; Olympic Games in London, England in 2012; and last year's World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
They have also set three World records in the process.
The impressive Jamaicans swept the men's sprint relays in Nassau after winning the 4x200m a day earlier in one of three world records set over the two days. They clocked 1:18.63 minutes. Blake and Ashmeade, former teammates
at St Jago High, ran on both winning teams.
Jamaica finished the two-day championships with five medals — two gold, two silver and a bronze. The silver medals were earned in the women's 4x400m yesterday and the women's 4x100m on Saturday. The bronze came courtesy of the women's 4x200m with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchoring that race on the final day.
Two other Jamaican national records were set yesterday — the women's 4x200m (1:30.04 minutes) and the rarely run women's 4x800m (8:17.22 minutes).
It wasn't all celebrations, however, as there were some disappointments. In addition to the third place by the women's 4x200m team, even with the addition of world and Olympic 100m champion Fraser-Pryce, the men's 4x400m team finished at the back of the field after dropping the baton at the first exchange.
The scores of Jamaicans in the stands had a lot to cheer for in the final event as the Blake-led quartet won easily ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (38.04 seconds), thanks to a fine anchor leg from 2008 Olympic Games 100m silver medallist Richard Thompson, with Great Britain (38.19 seconds) finishing third.
Earlier in the day, the Jamaican 4x100m men's team had run a world-leading 37.72 seconds to lead the qualifiers as the American team that was expected to provide the Jamaicans with top-quality competition, was disqualified after placing fourth in their heat.
The women's 4x400m team of Kaliese Spencer, Novelene Williams-Mills, Anastacia Leroy and Shericka Jackson was second in a season's best 3:23.26 minutes, just holding off Nigeria who took the bronze in 3:23.41, both behind the USA's championship record 3:21.73.
Without the services of Stephenie Ann McPherson, the Jamaican team had Spencer and Williams-Mills on the first two legs in what appeared to be a strategic plan not to let the USA get too far ahead of them.
The plan worked initially with two good legs, with Spencer, who had anchored the team in Saturday's preliminaries clocking 51.20 seconds and Williams-Mills, who had sat out Saturday, splitting a brilliant 49.70 seconds to erase the Americans' lead and handing over just ahead of Sanya Richards Ross for the Americans.
Leroy was passed, however, by the American third-leg runner, while a less-than-inspired-looking Jackson managed to hold off the Nigerians.
Jackson jogged out after taking the baton, then noticeably slowed down near the line even with the Nigerian anchor-leg runner closing the gap with every stride.
The men's team that was expected to challenge for a podium place dropped out of the running after a botched first hand-over between lead-off runner Dane Hyatt and Chumaine Fitten and they ended up running 3:10.23 minutes.
The USA won in 2:57.25 ahead of the Bahamas (2: 57.59) with Trinidad third in a national record 2:58.34.
The women's 4x200m team was a disappointing third despite the new national record with the team of Simone Facey, Sherri-Ann Brooks, Anniesha McLaughlin and Fraser-Pryce finishing behind the USA (1:29.45 minutes) and a young Great Britain team that also ran a national record 1:29.61.
The previous best by a Jamaican female team was 1:30.23 minutes set by a Jamaican team at the Penn Relays in 2001.
The women's 4x800m team ran 8:17.22 minutes as anchor-leg runner Natoya Goule took the team from seventh to fifth overall.
Loraine McKenzie had led off to Semoya Campbell, who handed over to Chrisann Gordon.
The previous best by any Jamaican female team was the then World junior record 8:37.71 minutes set in 1991 at the Penn Relays by a Vere Technical team of Charmaine Howell, Claudine Williams, Janice Turner and Inez Turner.