Relay record

Blake’s blistering anchor leg spurs Jamaica to 4x200m world record

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter

Sunday, May 25, 2014

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A scintillating anchor leg of an unofficial 19 seconds flat by Yohan Blake propelled Jamaica to gold and a world record run in the men's 4x200m while the women finished second in the 4x100m on the first day of the inaugural IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas.

The quartet of Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown and Blake sped to 1:18.63 minutes to erase the old mark of 1:18.68 held by the Santa Monica Club of the United States of America since 1994.

The expected challenge of the Americans never materalised as they placed third but were later disqualified. Second went to the tiny Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis in 1:20.51 mintes ahead of France, third in 1:20.66 minutes.

The Jamaicans pocketed US$50,000 for their victory and will get another US$50,000 once the world record is ratified.

Earlier, the Jamaicans with Rasheed Dwyer, Jermain Brown, Jason Livermore and Warren Weir won their heat in fine style establishing a championship record of 1:20.15 minutes ahead of France in 1:21.45 and St Kitts and Nevis with 1:21.97.

The US quartet of Maurice Mitchell, Curtis Mitchell, Isaiah Young and veteran Wallace Spearmon easily won the second heat in 1:21.35 to be the second fastest into the final.

The women's 4x100m team, running without Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, had two poor baton changes and had to settle for silver behind the Americans.

Jamaica started with Carrie Russell, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and Samantha Henry-Robinson, and despite messing up badly on the final handover, finished second in 42.28 seconds. It was actually faster than they did in winning their heat earlier in 42.29 seconds.

The US quartet of Tianna Bartoletta, Alexandria Anderson, Jeneba Tarmoh and Lakeisha Lawson, who entered the final with the same time as the Jamaicans, struck gold in an impressive 41.88 seconds.

Meanwhile, both Jamaican mile relay teams advanced to the finals with the second fastest times behind race favourites the Americans.

In the women's 4x400m, the Jamaican team of Christine Day, Anastasia LeRoy, Shericka Jackson and Kaliese Spencer clocked a season's best 3:24.95 minutes and placed second behind the US quartet of Deedee Trotter, Jamaican-born Sanya Richards-Ross, who had a storming second leg, Monica Hargrove and Jessica Beard in 2:23.84 minutes.

Nigeria with 3:27.07 minutes had the third fastest time and Great Britain fourth with 3:27.30 minutes. The Russians failed to show, and based on this, Jamaica should be able to secure at least a silver medal.

The men's team of Javere Bell, Edino Steele, Dane Hyatt and Rusheed McDonald ran the Americans, without Lashawn Merritt, close all the way but finished second in 3:01.17 minutes. The US won in 3:01.09 seconds.

It was the closest a Jamaican team came to actually beating the Americans in decades. However, Jamaica will have to significantly improve if they are to medal entering the final with the fifth fastest time overall. Host Bahamas (3:00.30), Great Britain (3:00.74) and Trinidad and Tobago (3:01.06) registered faster times.

The first final of the day, the men's 4x800m, was won by Kenya, but barely just in 7:08.40 minutes ahead of the fast finisher Polish team in 7:08.69 minutes.

The US won bronze with 7:09.06 minutes. Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, Sammy Kibet Kirongo and Job Koech Kinyor established a huge 40m lead after three legs, but anchorman Alfred Kipketer clocked a bullet 49 seconds for his first 400m and 60 seconds for the last 400m and barely had enough legs to hold on for a facile victory.

The Kenyans were well outside their world record of 7:02.43 minutes set in 2006.

The East Africans were at it again, this time their women struck gold in the 4x1,500m in a world record of 16:33.58 minutes. Mercy Cherono, Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Onsando Obiri easily dispatched the American into second spot with 16:55.33 minutes. Australia copped the bronze with 17:08.65 minutes.

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