The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
For the last 28 years and no fewer than seven Olympic Games no-one other than the United States of America had managed to win the men’s 4x400m Olympic title. That is until Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller teamed-up to secure the first male Olympic gold medal for the Bahamas to conclude a superb night of athletics here in London.
After making a point of holding off the challenge of Team USA in yesterday’s heats albeit both teams concluded with the same time, Brown was moved from anchor to first leg for tonight’s final and that move proved an excellent decision for the Caribbean nation.
Fourth in the individual 400m final – he was also fourth in Beijing – Brown had a lot to fight for and was determined not to return medalless from his fourth successive Olympic Games. The 2010 World Indoor champion Brown worked hard down the home straight to pass on to Pinder, the individual seventh placer here in London, who broke from his lane ahead of the field.
Chased by the USA (Joshua Mance), Trinidad and Tobago (Jarrin Solomon), Cuba (Raidel Acea), Russia (Denis Alekseyev), Belgium (Antoine Gillet) and Great Britain (Jack Green) in this order Pinder held on strongly while teams of Venezuela and South Africa were already out of contention behind the leaders.
The only team to move up as the second exchange approached was Team GB with Green running another impressive leg to hand over to 400m Hurdles World champion David Greene. But the race that mattered for the gold medal was now run a full 20 metres ahead now with Tony McQuay (USA) moving past Mathieu (BAH) halfway through the back straight and putting the US in the driver’s seat for the first time in the race.
Meanwhile Ade Alleyne-Forte (TRI) had put some daylight between himself and the chasing pair of Greene and Noel Ruiz but the Cuban team would eventually fail to reach the finish line. A superb third-leg from Jonathan Borlée saw Belgium move into fourth but their position would be short-lived after he passed to anchor leg Michael Bultheel.
At the final exchange it was USA marginally ahead of Bahamas with Trinidad in third and Belgium, Great Britain and Russia closing up quickly on the third position.
Anchoring Team USA, Angelo Taylor who was part of the Beijing gold medal winning quartet, held off the charge of 200m medallist Miller for 350 metres but the final stages proved fatal as the 2-time 400m Hurdles Olympic champion could not respond to Miller’s devastating finishing kick.
The Bahamas’ 2:56.72 gold medal winning effort was also a national record for the country who incidentally will host the first ever IAAF World Relay Championships in 2014!
Team USA closed in a season’s best 2:57.05 while Martyn Rooney set off in a desperate attempt to catch up Deon Lendore and take Great Britain’s first 4x400 relay Olympic medal since 1992 but he failed just 13 hundredths of a second short of Trinidad’s new national record 2:59.40, the country’s first Olympic medal in the event since 1964!
Aside from a boycott (1980), a DQ (2000) and a withdrawal (1972), that's USA's first defeat in an Olympic 4x400m since 1952!
"It's great to bring home the gold," said Brown. "We really ran well. I trusted in these guys to finally beat the Americans."