The last event at the IAAF World Youth Championships here in Lille provided the crowd with the fifth World Youth best performance recorded at this competition as the US Medley Relay team of Ronald Darby, Aldrich Bailey, Najee Glass and Arman Hall stopped the clock at 1:49.47, an improvement of 46 hundredths of a second on the previous standard which was also held by Team USA.
The individual bronze medallist at 200 and fourth placer at 100, Darby set team USA on a fast track handing out to Bailey, the 200 sixth placer less than two hours previously.
Japan was also going strong on the inside with 100 silver medallist Kazuma Oseta running a superb opening leg and handing slightly in the lead to team-mate Akiyuki Hashimoto, the individual fourth placer in the 200.
However the crowd’s attention was all the French team who was fielding their 100 bronze medallist Mickael-Meba Zézé in second leg. The Frenchman made up some ground on the bend but it wouldn’t be enough to break from his lane in the lead.
At the changeover, it was USA, Japan and France well clear of the rest of the teams and surprisingly the Bahamas who was expected to battle for a medal, in last.
However, it was now time for Stephen Newbold to show his prowess for the second time today the Bahamian taking his team from dead last to a close third just a couple of hours after claiming gold in the individual 200.
Teams reached the bell and it was still close with the US having the advantage of fielding World Youth 400 champion Arman Hall for their last leg with Japan counting on Takuya Fukunaga (5th at 400), Thomas Jordier anchoring for France and Andre Wells for the Bahamas.
Pushed by the loud cheer from the crowd, Jordier who was a semi-finalist in the individual 400 stormed inside Wells who would soon be off the radar and quickly closed the gap with Fukunaga. Again he took the inside moving into second with 250 metres to go; it seemed as though the Frenchman would stun the world but he soon ran out of gas.
Hall was solidly running to the line to clinch his country’s sixth medley relay gold in the history of the competition. Fukunaga ran a more balanced race and regained second place his team being awarded silver in 1:50.69 with Jordier holding on for France’s third bronze of the championships in 1:51.81.
Poland, the only other country ever to have won this title in 2001, finished strongly in fourth at 1:52.42 with the Bahamas in fifth at 1:52.51. Trinidad and Tobago also finished under 1:53 as Jamaica did not start.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF