Olympic record 2:55.91 was exciting only insofar as watching the clock was concerned.
With yesterday’s disqualification of the Jamaican quartet, the only viable challenger had disappeared, and the Yanks’ win had a victory margin of almost five seconds, the largest in Olympic history.
Still, the Americans only know one way of running, and that is fast. Having all three medal winners from last Monday’s 400m competition available for duty also helps.
After 400m silver medallist Otis Harris opened with a 44.6, the senior member of the quartet, bronze winner Derrick Brew, sped around the stadium in 43.6.
Then came a 43.9 contribution by the 400m Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner. It was certainly a déjà-vu situation for Wariner, as he passed to his Baylor University teammate Darold Williamson for the umpteenth time this season.
Williamson responded with a 43.8 as the Americans won the event for the sixteenth time out of the twenty-one times the relay has been contested.
“All we were worried about tonight was getting the stick around,” said Wariner. “That was our main focus. We did that, and we all ran our hearts out. It’s been a great experience.”
The team’s only regret might have been the 0.17 seconds which separated them from an Olympic record.
Meanwhile, far, far behind the US team, an exciting battle was unfolding for the other two medals.
In the middle of the final curve, Australia’s Clinton Hill moved strongly to the lead, and his early-week virus attack notwithstanding, he carried his advantage into the finish for a 3:00.60 and the silver medal.
“We had a team discussion this morning and discussed strategy,” Hill said. “We knew that with the Jamaicans out, the silver and bronze were up for grabs. Tonight, everyone gave 120% and we can’t ask for more than that,”
Behind Hill came a mad scramble among the teams from Great Britain, Japan and Nigeria. Only in the final metres did Enefiok Udo Obong of Nigeria edge in front to capture the bronze in 3:00.90, as the last-ditch efforts of Japan (3:00.99) and the British team (3:01.07) went for naught.
Said one member of the Nigerian team in the post-event press conference, “Bronze for us, in Nigeria, is as good as the gold.”