Jamaican team, anchored by Usain Bolt become the first sprint quartet to break 37 seconds for the 4x100m, while women’s 20km walk world record is also broken
The second major championships in succession ended with a high as the Jamaican sprint quartet, anchored by Usain Bolt, smashed the 4x100m world record – a superb ending to an evening that also witnessed a second gold medal by Mo Farah.
It was the identical quartet to the one which won gold in Daegu of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Bolt and they smashed through the sub-37 barrier with a glittering time of 36.84.
The Jamaicans didn’t really make too much of a dent into the American quartet on their outside for the first two changeovers although Blake forged a slight advantage over Tyson Gay on the third leg to hand Bolt a marginal lead on the anchor leg.
As good an athlete as Ryan Bailey is, it would have been impossible to bet against Bolt even if the Jamaicans came into the anchor leg with a slight deficit. Bolt duly extended their advantage to about three metres to cross the line in a world record time.
Their winning time was the first sub-37 performance in history and the fact the record before the 2008 Olympic Games stood at 37.40 is testament to how the athletes in yellow and green have revolutionised sprinting over the past four years.
Their time was also achieved without the world’s most prolific sub-10 100m performer Asafa Powell who pulled up injured in the 100m final.
Kudos to the Americans too. Their sprint quartet of Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Bailey equalled the previous world record of 37.04 and they took another chunk off the pre-Games US record of 37.40.
Track and Field News report the splits for the Jamaicans as 10.1 for Carter, 9.0 for Frater, 9.0 for Blake and 8.8 for Bolt while the American notched up 10.2 for Kimmons, 8.9 for Gatlin, 9.0 for Gay and 8.9 for Bailey.
Perhaps tonight was the last time we saw Bolt racing in the Olympic arena and if it is, what a way to sign off your Olympic career! He initially sounded confident about competing in the next Games but after the race, he said quite ominously: “I’ve thought about it, I think it is going to be very hard. Yohan is coming through and I’m sure a lot of the other young guys are coming up, so I will see what happens in four years.
“This was my goal. I’ve done that so right now I’m going to sit down and think about it. But I’m going to the city tonight to celebrate.”
The women’s 4x400m final was supposed to be a close contest between the United States and Russia for the title but it proved to be a demonstration from the reigning champions who retained their titles from Beijing.
Individual bronze medallist Dee Dee Trotter gave the United States the lead with an opening 50.5 split and this was extended when Allyson Felix produced one of the fastest second-leg relay splits of all-time of 47.8.
Sanya Richards-Ross anchored the quartet with a 49.10 leg and their winning time of 3:16.87 was the equal fifth fastest ever.
Russia took silver again in a season’s best of 3:20.23 while Jamaica retained their bronze medals with 3:20.95.
Britain had nothing more than an outside chance of a medal and they finished fifth in 3:24.76.
Elena Lashmanova produced a supremely measured race in the 20km walk to hand reigning Olympic champion Olga Kaniskina her first defeat in a major championships since the European Championships in 2006.
Kaniskina’s early-season form wasn’t too distinguished but she normally judges her peak for the championships well and it looked as though she would become the first athlete to retain the 20km walk title as she led Liu Hong by 22-seconds and Lashmanova by 43-seconds at 10km.
However, Kaniskina’s searing early-race pace caught up with her. The gap was cut to 24-seconds at 16km and 17-seconds at 18km. Lashmanova, who defeated Kaniskina at the World Cup this year, markedly accelerated and caught her tiring team-mate in the final kilometre. She waited until the finish was in sight to make her decisive move and Kaniskina couldn’t respond to her younger opponent’s surge.
Lashmanova was rewarded with a world record of 1:25.02 to take six seconds from Vera Sokolova’s previous mark. It might be too presumptuous to say this race marked a changing of the guard of race-walking as Kaniskina almost walked under the previous mark taking silver with 1:25:09.
Qieyang Shenjie wasn’t the most fancied of the Chinese walkers but she came through for the bronze medal in an Asian record of 1:25:16. Team-mate Liu Hong bravely went with Kaniskina’s early-pace but faded back to fourth in 1:26:00.
Anisya Kirdyapkina, the wife of Sergey who won the 50km walk this morning, finished fifth in 1:26:26.
Commonwealth Games champion Johanna Jackson had a disappointing campaign as she was disqualified before the halfway stage.
Mariya Savinova was head and shoulders above one of the strongest fields on the track as the Russian ran a trademark astute tactical race to win the 800m title. The world champion, like she did in Daegu last year, sat off the fast early pace which was set by Alysia Johnson-Montano through 400m in 56.31.
Reigning champion Pamela Jelimo, as she did at her peak back in 2008, kicked hard down the back-straight but Savinova, who ran an even-paced race, moved into second at 600m and looked the likely winner coming off the final bend.
Savinova passed Jelimo with 80m and she came through for an unchallenged gold medal in 1:56.19 to become the first Russian winner of the title since Svetlana Masterkova in 1996.
Fastest into the final, Caster Semenya moved from sixth at the top of the home straight to snatch the silver medal in 1:57.23 while Russian champion Ekaterina Poistogova set a PB of 1:57.53 to pip the tiring Kenyan on the line for bronze.
Russia also took gold and bronze in the high jump as Anna Chicherova cleared 2.05m for the title ahead of Brigetta Barrett and Svetlana Shkolina who both cleared PBs of 2.03m for silver and bronze respectively.
Reigning champion Tia Hellebaut from Belgium normally raises her game for the major competitions but she could only finish fifth with a 1.97m season’s best while Chaunte Lowe, who defeated Chicherova at Crystal Palace last month, was bitterly disappointed with sixth in the final.
Seventh at the Pan-American Games last year, Keshorn Walcott produced the shock of the week with the gold medal in the javelin. His pre-2012 PB stood at 75.77m and while he had some pedigree from winning the world junior title last month, he wasn’t expected to challenge for a medal.
Nobody in the final even set a season’s best apart from Walcott, who improved his national record from 82.83m to 84.58m in the second round and this proved sufficient for a shock gold medal for the Caribbean nation.
In a competition which didn’t really catch fire, Oleksandr Pyatnytsa from Ukraine won the silver medal with 84.51m while Antti Ruuskanen won bronze for Finland with 84.12m.
Viteslav Vesely produced a 88.34m PB in qualifying but he was exactly five metres down on this throw in the final while reigning two-time champion Andreas Thorkildsen had to settle for sixth.