USA pips Jamaica to the women's 4x100m title at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
On paper, Jamaica’s women’s 4x100m team looked unbeatable. The US squad shredded those predictions, using better teamwork to win the gold medal at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Similarly, the Canadian team claimed an upset in the men's 4x100m on Saturday (23), as Andre De Grasse anchored the quartet to gold ahead of USA.
On a day of 4x100m surprises, there was also a second world javelin title for Anderson Peters, Pedro Pichardo added world gold to his Olympic triple jump title, Gudaf Tsegay took the 5000m title and Emmanuel Korir kicked to 800m victory.
In the women’s 4x100m final, as Twanisha Terry held off a hard-charging Shericka Jackson on the home stretch, the crowd at Hayward Field produced the loudest roar in nine days of competition.
“It was not expected of us today and I am glad we pulled it through,” said Melissa Jefferson, who ran the first leg for USA.
She added that she and her teammates “have a lot of confidence in ourselves and I knew we would show the world what we are capable of.”
The US team ran a world-leading 41.14, the second-fastest ever at a World Championships, with Jamaica clocking 41.18. They reversed positions from the Tokyo Olympics, where Jamaica claimed the gold and the US won the silver.
“The race was electrifying,” said Terry. “You heard the stadium. The stadium went crazy. We just brought it home.”
The US won its eighth gold medal and 13th overall in the event after placing third in 2019.
Jamaica, which captured its 16th medal, not only fielded the three world and Olympic medallists in the 100m, but in Elaine Thompson-Herah, the nation had the fastest woman alive in the 100m. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the five-time and reigning world champion in the 100m and Jackson is the fastest woman alive in the 200m. They had five individual medals from this World Championships between them.
Kemba Nelson, the leadoff leg, was the 60m champion for the University of Oregon in 2021 and running on her home track.
The members of the US team, by comparison, had no hardware to show from their individual events in Eugene. Jefferson was eighth in the 100m, Abby Steiner placed fifth in the 200m, Jenna Prandini did not reach the final in the 200m and Terry did not make the 100m final.
But the US team had experience from the preliminary round, with Steiner replacing Aleia Hobbs as the only difference in team composition. For Jamaica, Nelson was the only carryover.
“Of course, we wanted to win,” said Thompson-Herah. “But we are glad for the silver tonight and we cannot complain.”
Fraser-Pryce won her third medal in Eugene — one gold and two silvers — for a total of 14 World Championships medals, tying compatriot Usain Bolt.
Germany won its first medal since 2009 in the 4x100m, clocking 42.03, while Nigeria placed fourth with an African record of 42.22.
Dina Asher-Smith pulled up with an injury ahead of the final hand-off for Great Britain, the team going on to finish sixth.
With a better final handoff and a determined De Grasse, Canada reclaimed the top spot on the men’s 4x100m podium for the first time since 1997.
“It’s not on home soil, but it felt like it,” De Grasse said of the cheering Canadians who came down for the World Championships.
The tight-knit Canadian quartet, who have grown up together in the sport, clocked a world-leading 37.48, with De Grasse running a final leg of 8.79 to keep Marvin Bracy-Williams-Williams of the US in his rear-view mirror. The US ran 37.55, with Great Britain taking the bronze in 37.83.
Aaron Brown led off for Canada, followed by Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and De Grasse. The US had a formidable team of Christian Coleman, the 2019 world 100m champion, two-time world 200m champion Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Bracy-Williams, who was second in the 100m. Fred Kerley, the world 100m champ, suffered an injury in the 200m and was not available for the relay.
“When Andre got (the baton) with the lead,” said Brown, “there’s no way they are going to catch him.”
However, De Grasse, who has struggled with injuries and Covid-19 this season, said he was tightening up a little bit. “I was hoping not to get caught,” he said.
With a semifinal exit in the 100m and withdrawal from the 200m, the Olympic 200m champion said it was an advantage to have fresh legs instead of running six races.
Bracy-Williams said the US had a “few things to clean up” on the exchanges. “Mine was not very good and that may have cost us the race,” he said. “Nonetheless, we got a medal, got the stick around. We will win next time.”
And after failing to make the final at the Tokyo Olympics, the US appreciated a medal of any kind. De Grasse’s victory brought some joy to his household after his partner, defending world champion Nia Ali, crashed out of the 100m hurdles heats.
Gudaf Tsegay won her first major outdoor world title with a thrilling victory in the women’s 5000m, just five days after capturing the silver in the 1500m. The Ethiopian was the world U20 silver medallist in the 1500m on this same track in 2014, then captured world 1500m bronze in 2019, Olympic 5000m bronze in 2021, and the world 1500m silver earlier this week.
Her time was 14:46.29, including a 59.95 final lap, with Beatrice Chebet of Kenya taking the silver and Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia, the world indoor silver medallist, claiming bronze in 14:47.36.
Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands launched her famous kick on the last lap, but could not stay with the leaders on the final stretch, finishing sixth in 14:48.12.
Hassan cut to the inside on the final lap and moved into the lead. Tsegay said that when her rival “came in front, I speeded up even more and won the medal.” She added that there were no difficult moments in the race. “The hard times were at the Olympics in Tokyo because I was injured there. Not today.”
Olympic gold medallist Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir won the first world title for Kenya in the men’s 800m since David Rudisha in 2015.
Korir powered past Canada’s Marco Arop on the final stretch to win with a season’s best of 1:43.71, while Djamel Sedjati of Algeria moved from fifth to second, clocking 1:44.14. Arop took bronze in 1:44.28, an improvement over his seventh-place finish in 2019.
Korir said he was expecting a faster race, with the first lap only 52.04, but had plenty left for the finish. “I knew there were some guys behind me in the last 100m,” he said. “I was expecting someone to come, but no one did.”
Three years after Donavan Brazier won the first men’s 800m title for his country, there were no US runners in the final.
Thanks to a prodigious first jump, Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo of Portugal won his first world title in the triple jump. His world-leading 17.95m stood up through all six rounds. Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso leaped a season’s best of 17.55m, also in the first round, for the silver medal, an upgrade from his bronze in 2019. Zhu Yaming took China’s first world medal in the event with a season’s best of 17.31m.
“This world title was elusive to me,” said Pichardo, who won silver medals in 2013 and 2015 when he represented Cuba.
The island nation of Grenada has a population of just over 110,000 people, but put two athletes on the podium in Eugene. Anderson Peters of Grenada won his second straight gold medal in the men’s javelin to go along with Kirani James’ silver in the men’s 400m.
Like Pichardo, Peters unleashed a huge first attempt, but he saved the best for last. Although Peters’ throw of 90.21m in the first round was more than two metres better than anyone else in the field, he outdid himself by hurling the javelin 90.54m on his final attempt.
Peters, who threw a world-leading 93.07m in Doha in May, said he was hoping for even longer throws, but there was a headwind.
“To defend the title is not an easy task,” he said. “I had to push myself. The last attempt, I already knew I was the champion, but I was working on my technique in every throw and I finally got it through.”
Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic gold medallist from India, took the silver with a throw of 88.13m on his fourth attempt to move ahead of Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic, whose best was 88.09m. Chopra became the first Indian man to win a World Championships medal.
Eight days ago, fan thoughts they witnessed the last World Championships appearance of Allyson Felix. But the US legend, who won her 19th World Championships medal – a bronze – in the mixed 4x400m, now has a chance for a record No.20. She ran the second leg in the heats of the women’s 4x400m, clocking the fastest split (50.61) as the US won its heat in 3:23.38. Felix, 36, had departed Eugene, attended the ESPY Awards, and returned home to Los Angeles, when she was asked to return.
Felix said she was “having my first cheat meal of retirement,” and “had a hot wing in one hand,” when she got the call. “I jumped on the plane and here we go.”
The US is expected to include hurdlers Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad in the final, but Felix could join them just as she did in their gold-medal winning performance in Tokyo.
“As far as I know I’m not going to be back, but who knows,” she said.
Felix took the baton from US champion Talitha Diggs, the daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark, whose last Olympics were in 2000. Felix’s first Olympics were in 2004.
Great Britain had the second-fastest qualifying time of 3:23.92, followed by Jamaica, which won the second heat in 3:24.23.
The Netherlands dropped the baton on the second exchange and the team was disqualified, nullifying the phenomenal 49.38 anchor leg by Femke Bol. The rulebook says the baton must be passed, not dropped on the track and picked up by the next runner.
The US also had the fastest qualifying time in the men’s 4x400m of 2:58.96. Anchor leg Trevor Bassitt, the bronze medallist in the 400m hurdles, was supposed to leave a day earlier, but was asked to stay.
With the USA winning comfortably, the drama was in the fight for second and third. Japan’s Yuki Joseph Nakajima dueled Jamaica’s Anthony Cox on the anchor leg. Relying on precision handoffs, Japan qualified second in 3:01.53, followed by Jamaica in 3:01.59.
Belgium, with a team including two Borlee brothers, Dylan and Kevin, won the second heat in 3:01.96. At least one Borlee brother has run on Belgian relays since 2009.
Czech Republic made its first final in the men’s 4x400m by clocking 3:02.42.
On the first day of the decathlon, Canada’s Damian Warner, the Olympic and world indoor champion, went down on the backstretch of the 400m after holding the top position through the first four events. Going into the 400m, Warner led Zachary Ziemek of the US by 62 points. Running in lane one, Warner grabbed his left hamstring and fell to the track. The 32-year-old was hoping to earn his first world decathlon title.
Ayden Owens-Delerme of Puerto Rico ran a superb 400m in 45.07 to move into the lead with 4606 points, followed by Warner’s compatriot Pierce LePage, the Commonwealth silver medallist, at 4485. LePage was second-fastest in the 400m, clocking 46.84. Ziemek, who was in the top five in each of the first four events, dropped to third overall at the end of the first day. US teammate Kyle Garland is holding down fourth at 4413 thanks to a 2.14m high jump.
Karen Rosen for World Athletics