Report Lille, France

Girls' Medley Relay - Jamaica breaks USA relay stranglehold

Christania Williams of Jamaica in action during the girls 100m qualification during day one - WYC Lille  2011 (Getty Images)Christania Williams of Jamaica in action during the girls 100m qualification during day one - WYC Lille 2011 (Getty Images) © Copyright

It was a fitting conclusion for the Jamaican Girls Medley relay to win gold here in Lille as three quarters of team had already stepped on the podium for individual events, albeit only on the lower step!


As a team, Christania Williams (100m bronze), Shericka Jackson (200m bronze), Chrisann Gordon (400m seventh placer) and Olivia James (400m bronze) dominated the final track event for girls on the last day of the IAAF World Youth Championships in a New World Youth best time of 2:03.42.


Williams ran the opening 100m handing the baton just ahead of individual 100m champion Jennifer Madu who passed on to 200m finalist Bealoved Brown for the US team. The second leg of 200m was covered by a determined Jackson, the Jamaican having a lot to prove after finishing a disappointing third in the individual event just an hour and a half ago.


As the teams broke from their lines, Gordon held a clear lead for Jamaica with Nigeria’s Ada Benjamin recovering from a very poor handover to break up into second, a mere step ahead of Kendall Baisden for the USA. Canada’s Chrisann Gordon, an individual silver medallist in the 200 and 400m, was setting off strongly for her 300 leg and as she had done in the previous day’s qualification round she put her country back in contention for a medal at the end of her leg.


At the final changeover, James was handed the baton with a lead of more than 5 metres over the pair of Robin Reynolds, the Olympic youth champion last year for the USA but only seventh in the individual 400m here in Lille, and 400m Hurdles individual bronze medallist Sage Watson for Canada.


Reynolds was making up ground over James with Watson dropping back very early into her final lap but strangely and unexpectedly the American stuttered entering the back straight and lost precious ground over her Jamaican counterpart.


Although she eventually made up half of her gap on the Jamaican, Reynolds crossed the line in 2:03.92 for team USA as Jamaica celebrated winning the medley relay for the first time in the history of the championships. In fact, in all previous edition, victory had gone to the USA!


Meanwhile, Rita Ossi of Nigeria worked as hard as she could to close the gap with Watson in a desperate attempt to grab bronze and it looked as though the African could stun the crowd as she caught up with the Canadian with 120 metres to go. But the Canadian, having seen the silver medal slip away, strongly secured bronze with a finishing time of 2:05.72 ahead of Nigeria’s 2:06.26.


Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF