If you start well enough in the 4x100m relay, you only have to avoid disaster the rest of the way.
That’s what happened in the final of the women’s sprint relay in the Bird’s Nest on Saturday night, a flying start from Veronica Campbell-Brown and a strong finish from Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce bringing Jamaica home in 41.07, breaking their own championship record and taking over the world lead from the United States.
Trinidad and Tobago just held on to beat Great Britain for the bronze medal, both teams running national records.
After the two relay powerhouses won their respective heats in the morning, the final always loomed as two races – the first between Jamaica and the US for the gold medal and the second between the rest for the bronze.
So it proved. With the Jamaicans in better form individually, the US had to put pressure on from the start.
Veronica Campbell-Brown who, along with 200m individual silver medallist Elaine Thompson, came into the Jamaican squad for the final, started one lane to the outside of English Gardner for the US. The US ran the same four and same order as the heat – Gardner, Allyson Felix, Jenna Prandini and Jasmine Todd.
For the second time in two nights, Campbell-Brown produced a fast start and an outstanding bend. By the time she handed over to Natasha Morrison for the second stage, Jamaica had gained ground on the leg.
That made life easier for Morrison, who was up against Felix on the back-straight leg. When 400m gold medallist Felix couldn’t take significant ground out of her Jamaican rival, the race was nearly over; when Thompson handed over to Fraser-Pryce still in the lead, it was over.
Jamaica’s 41.07 was more than two-tenths quicker than the championship record they had run in Moscow two years ago. The USA quartet ran a season’s best of 41.68.
Behind the first two there was a great battle going on for the bronze. Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle-Lee Ahye and Reyare Thomas had given Trinidad and Tobago a lead at the last change but Desiree Henry was charging home over the final leg for Great Britain.
Henry closed the gap but could not bridge it, Trinidad and Tobago holding on for the bronze medal in 42.03 from Great Britain’s 42.10. Both were national records, the second for Trinidad and Tobago at the championships.
The Netherlands, with 200m champion Dafne Schippers on the third leg, were fifth across the line in what would have been a national record of 42.32, but were disqualified for a changeover infringement. Russia also failed to get the baton around the track, but overall, heats and finals saw 22 out of 24 runs successfully concluded.
Len Johnson for the IAAF