Bahamas stuns Team USA men for 4x400 gold
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LONDON -- Not since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games have American quartets raced to gold medals in all four relays -- the men's and women's 4 x 100s and 4 x 400s. It won't happen in London. Anyone for Rio de Janeiro in 2016?
The four-relay sweep is a dead issue after a determined Bahamas team, anchored by Ramon Miller, ran down Team USA anchor Angelo Taylor in the final 80 meters of the men's 4 x 400 final Friday night at Olympic Stadium and won it 2:56.72 to 2:57.05.
For Team USA, it was a downer -- because 40 minutes earlier the American quartet of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter, passing the baton flawlessly, broke all records for the women's 4 x 100 with a sensational 40.82 victory over Jamaica.
And this was four years after another American women's 4 x 100 team failed to get the stick around the track in the preliminaries at Beijing.
As the Bahamas 4 x 400 runners toppled into a joyous heap on the track after beating the U.S., Taylor, the American men's team captain, was disconsolate. "It was tough," said the veteran, four-time Olympian who had twice won golds in the 400-meter hurdles (Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008.)
"I got the stick exactly where I wanted it," Taylor said. "I thought I could get it home. I never could find my second gear. It was still exceptionally close."
It might have been different if the U.S. had been at full strength. First, defending Olympic 400-meter champion LaShawn Merritt had limped off the track with hamstring trouble just halfway through his first-round race.
Second, team member Mamteo Mitchell -- showing incredible courage running despite the pain of an injury later diagnosed as a broken leg -- had helped the team get through its qualifying race, but was, of course, gone for the final. So Taylor took anchor duty responsibility -- only to see Miller run him down.
All four Bahamas gold medalists have been U.S. collegians: leadoff man Chris Brown at Norfolk State, Demetrius Pinder at Texas A & M, Michael Mathieu at Texas Tech and Miller at Dickinson State of North Dakota.
It took a sensational 44.01 split for Miller to give Bahamas the gold. Taylor still ran a 44.85 at age 33, but it wasn't quick enough.
Claiming third place in 2:59.40 was the Trinidad and Tobago team with Queens resident Lalonde Gordon running a 45.1 leadoff leg.South Africa, with Oscar "The Blade Runner" Pistorius anchoring in 45.69, ran eighth in 3:03.46.
The U.S. women's 40.82 was not only a world and Olympic record but it erased one of the oldest world marks in the books -- the 41.37 by East Germany in 1985. And the U.S. women won this event for the first time since 1996.
"I knew these girls were going to run their hearts out," anchor Jeter said. "There was a cloud hanging over us. People were saying 'They're going to drop the stick.' We got it right and all I had to do was bring it home."
Jamaica, anchored by Kerron Stewart, settled for second in 41.41, national-record time.
More from the good-news department: The U.S. men's 4 x 100 team -- Jeff Demps, Darvis Patton, Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin -- had one shaky baton exchange and still blazed home in the national-record time of 37.38, setting up a Saturday rematch with Jamaica and Usain Bolt.
Looking promising, too, for Team USA is Saturday night's women's 4 x 400 final.
The U.S. foursome of Keshia Baker, Francena McCorory, Diamond Dixon and DeeDee Trotter positioned itself perfectly with a clear-cut 3:22.09 triumph in its qualifying-round race.