Dominican Republic wins the mixed 4x400m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
Had the race been 10 metres shorter, it may have gone in the USA’s favour. 10 metres longer and perhaps the Netherlands would be the champions. But Dominican Republic timed their efforts to perfection in winning the mixed 4x400m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, catching the USA just before the line and holding off a fast-finishing Dutch team.
Over the past 12 months, four teams in particular have dominated this discipline. The same teams that occupied the top four spots at the Olympic Games last year were once again in the medal hunt here at Hayward Field, only the finishing order was different.
This time, the Dominican Republic – a nation of just 10.8 million people – defeated some of the superpowers of the sport, clocking the second-fastest time in history, 3:09.82.
Elija Godwin got the host nation off to a strong start, covering the first lap in 44.71 – a full second quicker than the next-best lead-leg runner – and handed over to Allyson Felix with a significant lead, prompting the loudest cheer of the day from the home crowd. By the time the legendary US sprinter was half way around the track, she had a lead of about 15 metres on her rivals.
But Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino, who took silver just ahead of Felix in the individual 400m in Tokyo last year, came charging around the final bend and made up the significant gap on the 2015 world 400m champion, catching her just before the line to put Dominican Republic’s Alexander Ogando in the lead.
Paulino’s split was later confirmed at 48.47. Felix, timed at 50.15 for her leg, handed over to teammate Vernon Norwood. Lieke Klaver, meanwhile, ran a 49.32 split to put the Netherlands back into contention. Further behind, Jamaica and Olympic champions Poland were trying to chase the top three but struggling to make any impact.
Norwood clocked a 44.40 split – the fastest of the race – to put the USA back in the lead going into the final leg. But Ogando (45.12) and Dutch 800m specialist Tony van Diepen (45.13) ran solid legs to keep their teams in contention.
Vernon Norwood and Alexander Ogando in the mixed 4x400m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
US anchor leg runner Kennedy Simon went out hard on the final leg and opened up a significant gap on Fiordaliza Cofil of the Dominican Republic and Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist Femke Bol of the Netherlands. At one point it seemed as though Simon’s lead would be safe, but Cofil started to gain on the US anchor on the home straight, while a long-striding Bol had both runners in her sights.
The home crowd did their best to support Simon in the closing stages, but her early exuberance proved costly and Cofil caught her just a few metres before the line, securing gold for the Dominican Republic in 3:09.82 – the second-fastest time in history and just half a second shy of USA’s world record from the 2019 World Championships. A split second later, Bol then came charging through to also pass Simon, giving Netherlands the silver medal in 3:09.90 ahead of the USA (3:10.16).
Poland, triumphant in Tokyo 12 months ago, this time finished outside the medals in fourth with 3:12.31, just ahead of Jamaica (3:12.71). Nigeria (3:16.21), Italy (3:16.45) and Ireland (3:16.86) rounded out the finalists.
It was Dominican Republic’s third gold medal in World Championships history, behind the two titles won by 400m hurdler Felix Sanchez.
“We are a small country, but we have a big heart,” said Dominican Republic’s lead leg runner Lidio Andres Felix.
“We did a great job as a team and I hope we can achieve another good result in Paris (2024),” added Paulino. “The Dominican Republic has a lot of talent, not just in baseball. I have a lot of admiration for Allyson Felix; we ran together in the Tokyo Olympic final.”
And while it may not have been the result the host nation was looking for, Felix still made history by winning a record 19th World Championships medal. She also broke records for the number of World Championships at which she has won a medal (eight) and for the longest span of medal-winning years (17).
“It was very special to be able to run in front of a home crowd for my last race, and my daughter was also in the stands,” said Felix. “It was a night I will cherish. I've had such good memories. I know it is time and these guys will carry it on into the future. I am at peace stepping into this next stage and have tremendous gratitude for this sport.”
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
|MIXED 4X400M MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Dominican Republic 🇩🇴||3:09.82 NR WL|
|🥈||Netherlands 🇳🇱||3:09.90 NR|
|🥉||United States 🇺🇸||3:10.16 SB|