28 AUG 2004 General News

Women's 4x400m Final

The United States of America failed to claim a medal in the individual 400m race but made sure there would be no denying them of the 4x400m relay gold.

Fifth place finisher in the 400m four days ago Dee Dee Trotter led off team USA to a superb start. The 21-year-old ran an amazing 49.19 opening leg and safely handed the baton to former World Junior champion Monique Henderson.

At that point Russia, Great Britain and Jamaica were still following close behind.

California based Henderson, also 21, who finished fifth at the national trials increased her lead to five metres coming into the home stretch and then even further as she passed the relay to Sanya Richards who had anchored the US to gold at last year’s World Championships.

Richards whose leg was timed in 49.81 ran the first 200 metres so safely that it briefly looked like Olesya Zykina of Russia and Nadia Davy of Jamaica could catch up with the World Junior record holder who was a disappointing sixth in the individual race.

But the 19-year-old Texas-based had timed it well and she was some 20 metres clear of her pursuers as she securely handed over to Monique Hennagan.

Although the US champion had an easy task ahead of her Hennagan ran the fastest leg of the team (49.73) and anchored the US team to their fourth Olympic gold in 3:19.01.

"It's a wonderful feeling," said Henderson. "Winning the biggest competition of the world in front of such a cheering crowd."

Even faster was individual bronze medallist Natalya Antyukh who covered her leg in 49.43 but the Russian was too far behind to even contemplate catching up with Hennagan. Russia was a clear second in 3:20.16 as 36-year-old Sandie Richards could only manage a 50.55 leg and anchored Jamaica to bronze in 3:22.00.

Lee McConnell made up a lot of ground on Grazyna Prokopek in the final leg but the Scottish sprinter couldn't do better than anchoring Great Britain to fourth in 3:25.12 a mere tenth of a second ahead of Poland.

400m Hurdles champion Fani Halkia could not add another medal to her Olympic campaign as the Greek team was out of contention following a missed change over. Second leg runner Hrisoula Goudenoudi failed to hand the baton to Dimitra Dova and it took the latter a few long seconds to respond to the full-house stadium support.

Greece eventually finished last in 3:45.70 with Halkia loudly cheered on by 70,000 spectators.

"It was a great mishap," said Halkia. "We finally managed to run to the finish line. It was a great celebration."

LA