The first gold medal of the IAAF/BTC World Relays went to the USA whose quartet exuded confidence throughout the race to cross the line in 7:04:84.
The opening lap saw Duane Solomon and Kenya’s teenage talent Alfred Kipketer handover almost simultaneously, the pair running 1:47.60 and 1:47.62 respectively, but the crucial move came with just under 200 metres to go on the second leg when Erik Sowinski went past Kenya’s inexperienced Nicholas Kipkoech and gave the USA a lead that they never relinquished.
Sowinski handed over the baton to Casimir Loxsom 20 metres ahead of the Kenyans and despite the presence of Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum on the third leg, last year’s winners lost further ground as Loxsom ran a outstanding 1:45.59 leg.
Robby Andrews initially stretched the lead out to 25 metres over the first 400m of the final leg before Jeremiah Mutai closed the gap down the final back straight.
But Mutai had been too audacious, running 48.07 for the first lap of his stint, and while Andrews was clearly tiring down the final 100 metres, looking up at the stadium screen he had been gauging his effort more assiduously and pulled away once more, eventually timed at 1:46.90 for his leg.
In fact, the flagging Mutai was almost caught by Poland’s fast-finishing European 800m champion Adam Kszczot.
However, after finishing just a few metres behind Kenya, Poland were eventually to take second in 7:09:98 as, shortly after the conclusion of the race, Kenya were disqualified because the exchange between the luckless Kipkoech and Kitum had been completed just before the changeover zone.
Having been a distant and isolated fourth for the last two legs, Australia found themselves promoted to an unexpected place on the podium, taking third in 7:16.30.
Mexico were the only other finishers in fourth place with 7:22.61.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF