Jamaica's 4X100m women gift nation highest Olympic prizeSaturday, August 07, 2021
TOKYO, Japan — Relays can be very tricky, but victory for Jamaica in the women's 4x100m relay on Friday night was as sure as night follows day.
Stacked with rare, elite quality which includes Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, the podium finishers in the 100m final six days earlier, as well as two of the three fastest women ever, they teamed up with Briana Williams, the Under-20 sprint double champion, to register a National record 41.02 seconds, the third-fastest time in history as they reclaimed the title they last won in Athens 2004.
Only the US at the London 2012 Games (40.82 seconds) and Rio Games (41.01 seconds) have gone faster, while Jamaivca's previous best was 41.07 seconds achieved at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. That team also featured Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce.
At the finish line, anchor Jackson was several metres clear, pulling farther and farther away from the field running in lane eight after Williams had given the Caribbean island a flying start.
The US finished second in a season's best 41.45, with Great Britain third in 41.88 seconds.
However, the first exchange with Thompson-Herah left a lot to be desired as the outgoing runner left her starting mark much too early and was forced to slow in order to effect the exchange within the zone.
The second-fastest woman in history made amends, however, when she scorched down the backstretch to hand off to Fraser-Pryce and from that point, it was simply a matter of Jamaica against the clock, barring any unforeseen mishaps.
As fast as the event was, sub-par baton exchanges throughout ensured the world and Olympic records remained intact.
It was the third gold medal of the Games for Thompson-Herah who had won the 100m final in an Olympic record 10.61 seconds, and the 200m in a National record 21.53 seconds for an unprecedented repeat of the Olympic sprint double.
It was the fifth Olympic title for Thompson-Herah while for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics 100m gold medallist Fraser-Pryce, it was her eighth Olympic medal.
It was the perfect gift for the nation celebrating its 59th year of Independence, though the Jamaican quartet was left confused as they were made aware of rumours of a potential protest from one of their rivals, just ahead of speaking to the Jamaican media in the mixed zone.
“As far I saw we were okay and there are officials that are placed at each point, so I'm sure if they saw something they would have raised a flag and sent it in. So, the fact that they went ahead to do a protest I just can't understand, but we'll wait and see. But, we know we deserve that medal — we ran for our medal and we had a good run,” noted Fraser-Pryce.
“I don't think they are going to deny us an Independence Day gold medal and Elaine her three gold medals, suh dem haffi guh come good,” she added.
Still trying to grasp the rumours circulating, Thompson-Herah remained positive.
“Honestly, I'm going to forget what I just heard. But we just went out there as a team; we wanted to get the world record and the Olympic record, we did not get that, [but we] still got a national record on Independence Day. There is nothing more we could ask for.”
At her first Olympics, young Williams was over the moon.
“I'm feeling great. I'm happy, proud of these ladies and what we've done tonight winning a gold medal.”
Jackson, after some amount of hesitancy, chipped in: “I'm just grateful. We went out there to do our best and our best was good enough. We got a National record, we won a gold medal so far as we know, we won a clear gold medal so it is just a great feeling to go out there and execute.”
The women's 4x100m gold medal increases Jamaica's tally to eight.
Meanwhile, the men's team of Jevaughn Minzie, Julian Forte, Yohan Blake and Oblique Seville finished fifth in 37.84 seconds in their 4x100m relay final after a horrendous exhibition of baton exchanges.
The race was won by Italy in a National record 37.50 seconds, just edging out Great Britain on the line in a season's best 37.51 seconds with Canada third, also in a season's best 37.70 seconds.
China finished fourth in a National record 37.79 seconds.
And there was further disappointment for Jamaica in the women's 400m final as the highly fancied Stephenie Ann McPherson finished fourth in 49.61 seconds and teammate Candice McLeod fifth at her first Olympics in 49.87 seconds.
The race was won in comfortable fashion by The Bahamas's Shaunae Miller-Uibo in an Area record 48.36 seconds to cop a remarkable double for her country, after Steven Gardiner obliged in the men's equivalent a day earlier.
As celebrations died down and fatigued athletes started leaving the running track, McPherson became inconsolable as she screamed out in anguish, even as McLeod and American rival Quanera Hayes went to her immediate assistance.
She was eventually carried off in a wheelchair and while no official word came from Jamaican officials, McLeod thought it could have been more about her emotions than anything physical.
“I'm not fully sure if she has an injury, but I know there is a lot of emotions. Maybe she was expecting better, Jamaica was expecting better, but hands down to Stephenie, she's the most consistent athlete I know. She's very determined, persistent and I always look up to Stephenie because despite her not going 49 every year, she kept her pace.”
And the men's 4x400m relay team advanced to today's final when they finished second in semi-final two yesterday.
The quartet of Demish Gaye, Jaheel Hyde, Karayme Batrtley and Nathon Allen got home in a season's best 2:59.29 minutes behind Poland in a season's best 2:58.55 minutes, with Belgium third in 2:59.37 minutes.
Jamaica will close out the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games inside the Olympic Stadium tonight by contesting the women's and men's 4x4000m finals.
The women, clear second choice behind the Americans, take to the track at 9:30 in lane five, while the men, also running from lane five, will have to run out of their skin if they are to secure a medal when they face the starter at 9:50 pm.