Ashley Spencer anchors USA to gold in the women's 4x400m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© Getty Images)
Barring an accident, this was always likely to be a rout for the US quartet, and that’s exactly what it was as the home nation streaked to victory in 3:26.38, coming home well clear of Poland (3:31.15) and Romania (3:31.51).
The accident, as it turns out, befell their chief rivals Jamaica, with Patricia Hall crashing to the track on the second lap of the first leg, where she lay for several minutes as the race continued.
Natasha Hastings, who with this victory claimed her tenth gold medal at a global championship, got the US team off to a good start with a 51.89-second leg, handing over to Quenera Hayes, who extended their advantage with a 51.02-second leg.
“We said earlier this week that we would get in front and stay in front,” said Hastings. “We came out here and got the job done.”
The fastest run of the day, however, was clocked by their third leg runner Courtney Okolo, who handed the baton over to Ashley Spencer after a 50.71-second leg. At that point, Spencer was able to enjoy what was essentially two victory laps, and she clocked 52.76 on the final leg to bring them home in 3:26.38.
“It was so special,” said Spencer. “I am sure I speak for everyone when I saw we are so excited to get this one.”
The Polish team held second place throughout, and their anchor runner Justyna Swiety did well to hold off the late challenge of Romania’s Bianca Razor to take the silver medals in 3:31.15.
“I definitely was tired after the rounds of the individual 400m,” said Swiety. “I had a good race and I’m happy we won the silver. I knew we could do it.”
Romania were just a fraction behind in third with 3:31.51, while Nigeria came home fourth in 3:34.03.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF