Team USA grabbed their seventh 4x400m World Indoor title and one that has been property of the stars and stripes nation since 2006 here in Doha courtesy of a 3:03.40 World leading time; and they didn’t even need to field 400m World Indoor record holder Kerron Clement who had anchored the first round to a comfortable heat win.
In what turned out to be a drama-packed final where only four teams eventually crossed the line and only three remained on the results sheet after examination by the judges, Belgium grabbed their first relay medal in the history of the competition in second at 3:06.94 and Great Britain took bronze in 3:07.52.
Individual bronze medallist Jamaal Torrance set the tone with a fine 45.80 leg, an effort worth a small lead over Bahamas and Jamaica with Belgium, Great Britain and the Dominican Republic another few strides behind.
The US changeover was by far the smoothest and just by virtue of a clear exchange Greg Nixon found himself with over five metres to spare halfway through the backstretch. It was game over; the US would have an easy run from then on.
It was far from over for the rest of the field. Kévin Borlée was the first to make a move taking Belgium from fourth to second approaching the second bend with Alvin Harrison now running for the Dominican Republic in close third.
In a desperate effort to put the Bahamas back into medal position Andretti Bain moved to the outside, however halfway through the bend he pulled his hamstring in what looked like quite a serious injury and went down some ten metres later. Unrelated and almost unnoticed, Jeremy Wariner’s training partner Sanjay Ayre also went down injured.
In the space of a few seconds, it was game over for Jamaica and Bahamas.
Meanwhile, the race for silver was still in full flow with Belgium handing over in second and Nigel Levin putting Great Britain in medal position for the first time in the race when handing over to former World Junior champion Christopher Clarke.
Clarke moved to the front (behind the US that is) with three laps to go while Belgium’s slowest runner Antoine Gillet was holding off former World 400m Hurdles champion Felix Sanchez.
More drama was to happen at the final exchange; a fast finishing Sanchez struggled to find anchor leg Joel Tapia who was waiting for him on the outside and although they did manage to hand the baton they would later be disqualified for changing position at the beginning of the take off zone.
While Bershawn Jackson, a disappointing last in the individual event yesterday, was speeding to his first World Indoor title unchallenged, Tapia positioned himself in second at the bell only to be counter attacked by Jonathan Borlée coming into the final bend and eventually Richard Burk some five metres to the finish.
Although he later found the strength to celebrate with his team-mates, Jackson lied down with what looked to be yet another hamstring injury for some long minutes. It thankfully didn’t take Jackson long to recover and just like the Belgian and British quartets, all four Americans set off for a well deserved lap of honour.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF