Like the Russians in the women’s event, the U.S. arrived in Moscow as the heavy favorites in the men’s 4x400, a position solidified by their World Indoor record* of 3:01.96 in Fayetteville early last month. After a dominating, if relaxed 3:03.66 win in their heat, the American squad looks virtually unstoppable as they chase their sixth title in the event.
James Davis (46.44), Obra Hogans (45.73), Tyree Washington (45.57), and Wallace Spearmon (45.92) finished nearly two-and-a-half seconds clear of Poland, the champions in 2001, who clocked 3:06.10. Further behind, Sweden was third and will move on to the final as well after their 3:07.10 national record. It was a substantial improvement for the Swedes, whose previous national best was 3:10.09 set in 2002.
The quartet from the Dominican Republic was fourth and will not advance, but their 3:07.87 was also a national record.
The first heat was a tight battle with Russia emerging with a slim victory over Spain, 3:08.02 to 3:08.07. But it was the misfortunes of Jamaica, the defending champions, that proved to be the biggest surprise.
For the Jamaicans, the morning was nothing short of a nightmare. With some jostling for position over the first lap, lead-off DeWayne Barrett was thrown off stride, and the quartet was never able to recover. Any attempt to at least make a graceful exit from the competition was dashed when anchor Spence Lanceford collided with France’s third runner, Teddy Venel, immediately following the hand-off. Both runners crashed to the ground; the Jamaicans didn’t finish, and the French were disqualified.
Both Ukraine, third in 3:09.46, and Romania, fourth in 3:13.93, ran to national records.
*World Indoor record pending ratification