Yokohama - The
United States' track athletes were left with bloody noses at the World
Relays on Sunday, but ultimately emerged victorious after a bruising two
days of competition in Yokohama.
American joy at finishing top of the medals table with five golds
will be tempered by the disappointment of losing their proud unbeaten
record in the 4x400m after electrifying performances from Poland
and Trinidad and Tobago.
Team USA had dominated the event at the three previous editions of
the World Relays but they were stunned by Poland's women as Justyna
Swiety-Ersetic anchored the European champions to an upset win in three
minutes, 27.49 seconds.
The Americans came up just short, the hot favourites settling for silver in 3:27.65 with Italy taking bronze.
"We can't believe it," said Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz.
"It was such an amazing feeling to actually hit the line first."
Lightning struck again in the men's 4x400m final when Machel Cedenio
produced an astonishing last 100m to give world champions Trinidad
and Tobago gold in a photo finish with Paul Dedewo.
Cedenio ran a 44.41 split to give his team victory in a world-leading
3:00.81 seconds - three hundredths ahead of the Americans, who were
later disqualified, bumping Jamaica up to the silver medal spot and
Belgium to third.
The US hit back in the mixed 4x400m, Jasmine Blocker building a huge
lead to give anchor Dontavius Wright the freedom of Yokohama and he
brought it home for a runaway gold medal in 3:16.43, almost two seconds
clear of Canada with Kenya taking bronze.
France then pulled off a shock victory in the women's 4x200m after two fumbled handovers by a star-studded Jamaican team.
Maroussia Pare anchored the French to gold from lane nine in 1:32.16
after butter-fingered exchanges from Olympic champions Elaine Thompson
and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
China grabbed silver in an
Asian record of 1:32.76 with Jamaica salvaging bronze after their
American rivals suffered another disqualification.
"We were nervous about facing such big, big teams," admitted Pare.
"But even though we were running against Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the magic happened!"
Jamaica failed to win a single event, their male sprinters coming up
woefully short in the 4x100 and 4x200m as they continue to struggle
without retired sprint king Usain Bolt.
The United States made no mistake in the men's 4x200m as Remontay
McClain romped home in 1:20.12 with clear daylight between him and South
Africa's Akani Simbine.
Aleia Hobbs then hung on to give the Olympic champions a fifth gold
medal in the women's 4x100m ahead of fast-finishing Jamaica and Germany.
The Americans clocked 43.27 as Hobbs edged out Jonielle Smith by two
hundredths with Rebekka Haase securing bronze for the 2017 winners.
But the US were unable to close with a hat-trick of wins after Brazil
swept to a historic victory in the men's 4x100m, firing a further
warning to Team USA before the world championships in Doha later this
Paulo Andre Camilo de Oliveira held off American Noah Lyles in the
tightest of finishes to clock a world-leading 38.05 with world champs
Britain taking bronze.
A botched handover by American world champion Justin Gatlin left Isiah Young with too much work to do on the third leg.
After securing Brazil's first-ever World Relays gold, de Oliveira was
mobbed by his team-mates as they celebrated wildly in the stadium where
their country's footballers lifted the World Cup in 2002.