Following David Rudisha’s magnificent and golden 800m performance on Thursday, USA’s women’s 4x100m relay team followed suit in breaking one of the oldest world records in track and field on Friday night. The quartet of Tianna Madison, Bianca Knight, Camelita Jeter and Allyson Felix hammered the 27 year-old East German world record by 0.55s (40.82s). Jamaica, made up of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart, won the silver in 41.41s.
The Americans continued their relay domination by winning the 4x400m. Allyson Felix, won her third gold medal in track and field at London 2012 – adding to the previous night’s 4x100m relay and her individual 200m gold. All-rounder. The men’s 4x400m relay was won by the Bahamas on Friday night, in a time of 2m 56.72s. USA finished second with Trinidad and Tobago third. Team GB were 0.13s from a medal in fourth place.
The USA versus Jamaica sprint theme continued in the men’s 4x100m relay. In recent years, the Americans have found themselves in unfamiliar territory. After largely dominating the event, winning seven out of ten Olympic races up to Sydney 2000, they found themselves in the Olympic wilderness as the Brits won at Athens 2004 and Jamaica took gold in 2008. Furthermore, Jamaica have dominated the men’s sprints in London, winning five individual medals from a possible six amongst the 100m and 200m races.
Going into yesterday’s final, the USA had a strong quartet in Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey. Their run was extremely quick, with smooth change-overs, crossing the line to match the world record set by the Jamaicans in 2011. However, they finished second. The night belonged to the men from the Caribbean island. Fixated on going out of London 2012 with another gold, they delivered yet another magical performance by going under the 37 second barrier. Nesta Carter and Michael Frater got the opening 200m under way, at which point, the Americans were in the lead. Then it was a face-off on the bend between Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay, where the beast closed the gap, passing the baton onto the man of the moment – Usain Bolt. He started the final leg approximately a metre or two behind USA’s Ryan Bailey. He swallowed the gap and created his own inside the first 20 metres – the main objective of gold was safely in the bag. World record? You would not have thought so after some sloppy change-overs but Bolt was a man on a mission, even diving for the line, yielding a world record time of 36.84s. Jamaica became the first men’s 4x100m relay team to successfully defend their Olympic crown since USA did the very same in Montreal 1976.
As Bolt crossed the line, he celebrated with the ‘Mobot’, in reference to Mo Farah’s now-trademark celebration. Farah had the largely home crowd in raptures as he collected his second gold medal of London 2012, adding the 5,000m title to the 10,000m title – joining an elite club of six distinguished athletes (most recent being Bekele in 2008) to win the long-distance ‘double’ at the same Olympic Games. The 5,000m race itself was very slow, the winning time was over one minute off the world record. It became a game of cat and mouse. None of the runners dared to make a break, resulting in 70 second lap times. With 700m to go through, Mo darted for the lead. By doing so, he left himself open to wave after wave of attacks from his competitors to steal the lead. Aided by the crowd’s positive energy, he continuously fended them off. It was nail-biting stuff for the spectators and Farah’s final lap was, a scarcely believable, 52.9s winning his second gold medal of the London 2012 Games.
Elsewhere, Keshorn Walcott added to Trinidad’s 4x400m relay bronze, by winning an unlikely gold in the men’s javelin resulting in Trinidad’s second ever Olympic title. 19 year-old Walcott, the world junior champion, won an event traditionally dominated by the European nations, with a throw of 84.58m. Ukraine’s Oleksandr Pyatnytsya and Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen finished second and third respectively.
Russian Anna Chicherova claimed gold in the women’s high jump. She won with a jump of 2.05m, slightly improving on last year’s world championship’s gold medal of 2.03m.
Overall in track and field, the USA comfortably finished top of the medal table with 29 medals – nine golds. Russia also performed strongly, winning eight golds and 18 overall. Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix were the best track and field performers with three gold medals each. Incredibly, in the 100m and 200m sprints (both mens and womens), not one medal was won outside of Jamaica or USA. Domination.
Today sees the last day of the London 2012 Olympics with the closing ceremony this evening.
Categories: Olympics 2012