In one of the closest and most thrilling races on a weekend teeming with exhilarating action, a fearsome foursome from Great Britain & Northern Ireland just edged the U.S. in the women's 4x400m Relay to claim its first medal of any kind in the event at a World Indoor Championships.
And it was a barn-burner from the sound of the gun until the tape was reached by British anchor Perri Shakes-Drayton in 3:28.76, just a scant 0.03 seconds ahead of Sanya Richards-Ross.
The U.S. lead at the break with a narrow lead over Russia, with the Britons and Ukraine following. Russian lead-off Yulia Gushchina moved to the front just before the first exchange but U.S No. 2, yesterday's 400m bronze medallist Natasha Hastings, retook the lead 100 metres later, one she held and maintained by a step into the third exchange.
By now Jernail Hayes and Russian third runner Marina Marina Karnaushchenko had some daylight on the field, but that turned out to be a temporary illusion. Overing a clear illustration that preparation for her Olympic title defence are going exceptionally well, Christine Ohuruogu produced a leg that few in the arena will soon forget. A distant third when she got the baton, she reeled in the Russian first before overtaking the American to give the Britons a clear lead heading into the anchor leg.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's anchor Nataliya Pyhyda moved her squad into solid contention by moving into second at the bell, around the same time that 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross began to make her move. After taking down Russian anchor Aleksandra Fedoriva heading into the final straight, she and Shakes-Drayton waged an epic battle over the final 40 metres with the American coming just an inch or two short. It was the closest 4x400m Relay ever at a World Indoor Championships.
"We just had to try," said Ohuruogu whose rematch against Richards-Ross may be one of the highlights of the women's Olympic 400 metres. "You can do anything, but you just have to try. This is why I overtook the American. Now we all need to stay healthy."
"I tried to keep my composure and thought I would have sufficient space and time to catch the British, but unfortunately I didn't," said Richards-Ross, who contested four races in the Championships' three days. "I have had a lot of races, but did know want to let the team down. This World Championships felt like a hard week of training, but I accomplished what I came here for."
Russia, who has won eight of the past nine titles in the event, had to settle for bronze, clocking 3:29.55.
Ukraine was a second back in fourth in 3:30.62.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF