Daegu, KoreaIt took until the final event, it took until Usain Bolt’s final run, but finally a World record was set in the Daegu 2011 World Championships as Jamaica extended its dominance of the men’s 4x100 metres relay.
But the nightmare continues for USA, which ran a world-leading time in the heats but then failed to complete the final as Darvis Patton collided with Britain’s anchor, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, as he came in to make the final change to Walter Dix.
Patton sprawled to the track, tried unavailingly to get up, and watched despairingly as the rest of the field set off on the final leg. Great Britain & Northern Ireland failed to finish the race. Trinidad and Tobago, who beat Jamaica in the heat, was also inconvenienced, finishing sixth.
Ironically, Patton and Dix came into the squad for the final, replacing Maurice Mitchell and Travis Padgett who ran the last two legs in the heat. But the US big two never got to connect.
The result was that the capacity crowd saw Bolt belt down the home straight in splendid isolation, nothing to beat but the World record 37.10 Jamaica had set in winning the 2008 Olympic final. He flashed across the line, the time flashed up – 37.04 World Record. Pandemonium reigned.
Ironically, Bolt got two individual World records in Berlin two years ago but Jamaica missed the World record in the relay. Here, his individual performance was marred by his disqualification in the 100 metres and he won the 200 in a ‘mere’ 19.40, just the fourth-fastest performance ever.
Now, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Bolt had closed the championships in the best possible way – a World record.
Jamaica was never going to lose, as the race was run. The changes were crisp and the first three runners had already built a lead for Bolt – not that he needed any help. The only last-leg heroics required were to break the record – and he delivered.
The misfortune for USA and Great Britain handed the silver medal to France, Teddy Tinmar, Christophe Lemaitre, Yannick Lesourd and Jimmy Vicault getting the baton around in 38.20.
The bronze medal went to St Kitts and Nevis, a finalist for the first time, and including the ageless Kim Collins, the individual 100 metres bronze medallist, in its squad. Jason Rogers, Collins, Antoine Adams and Brijesh Lawrence clocked 38.49, 0.02 slower than the national record in the heats, but who cares when a medal is there at the end of it.
Jamaica has now won the 2008 Olympic and 2009 and 2011 World titles since the USA last came home first in the Osaka 2007 World Championships, and has set the past two World records in doing so. Despite injury putting Asafa Powell out of the championships, the Caribbean powerhouse shows no sign of running out of steam, or sprinters.
The USA, by contrast, has failed to get out of the heats in three out of the past four global championships – the 2005 and 2009 World Championships and the 2008 Olympic Games – and now failed to finish in Daegu.
It is truly a nightmare that shows no sign of ending.
Len Johnson for the IAAF