The 9th IAAF World Championships came to a thrilling conclusion with one of the closest ever finishes to a men's 4x400m Relay Final, won by just 12 hundredths of a second by the USA from a French quartet who raised the 60,000 noisy spectators to their feet and had them bellowing at their raucous best in hope of another gold.
France's silver came with a national record, 2:58.96, while USA's winning 2:58.88 gave them their seventh World Championships victory in this event. The only times they have suffered defeat was to the Soviet Union at the inaugural championships in 1983, and in 1991 when Great Britain beat them by just four hundredths, the closest ever margin.
But it wasn't just a two-horse race, for there were five teams still in the hunt for medals as the final leg runners entered the home straight. As USA and France battled it out for gold and silver, Jamaica held off the challenge of Bahamas and Great Britain to take the bronze in 2:59.60, the first three all breaking three minutes.
Calvin HARRISON led off for the USA. Running in lane three, he chased France's Leslie DJHONE a lane outside him, and Jamaica's Brandon SIMPSON in five. But former world champion Arvard MONCUR was most impressive, giving the Bahamas a strong start. Individual silver medallist Tyree WASHINGTON took over for the USA, with France's Naman KEITA in hot pursuit, followed by Danny MCFARLANE (JAM) and Dennis DARLING for Bahamas.
But the USA weren't going to have it all their own way. On the third leg Derrick BREW was overhauled by Jamaica's Davian CLARKE, who came from third to second around the final bend, and then edged into a lead. Nathaniel MCKINNEY was also running well for Bahamas and he moved onto to Brew's shoulder, as French 400m hurdler Stephane DIAGANA kept his team in touch.
It looked like these four were going to fight out the medals, and so it proved, with Jamaica's Michael BLACKWOOD in a marginal lead at the final exchange, followed closely by USA's individual 400m champion Jerome YOUNG, then the French 400m bronze medallist Marc RAQUIL. The Bahamas' Christopher BROWN was still close, and Britain's former world indoor champion Daniel CAINES made up huge ground down the back straight to challenge the top four.
As they entered the final straight, Young kicked for home, but he was challenged by the typically fast finishing Raquil, who came like a blonde train on the outside. If the line had been another five metres away he probably would have won, but Young had timed his effort well, leaving just enough left to hold on.
Blackwood was another five metres back in third, Brown brought the Bahamas home for fourth (3:00.53), and Caines's valiant efforts gave Britain fifth (3:01.00).