Kevin Borlee anchors Belgium to the world indoor 4x400m title in Belgrade (© Getty Images)
For the first time in World Indoor Championships history, the line up for the men's 4x400m final did not include a US quartet.
Ten-time winners and previously medal-less only when dropping the baton in Budapest in 2004, and after a retrospective DQ in Lisbon in 2001, their quest to regain the title they lost to the inspired Poles in Birmingham four years ago came to grief in the morning heats.
Isaiah Harris was closing on Belgium’s Kevin Borlee on the anchor leg when his right hamstring cramped with 150 metres remaining. The 800m finalist dug deep to keep his team in the qualification reckoning, hobbling across the line still in second place, though distantly so.
A time of 3:09.11 was not enough to secure one of the three non-automatic spots for the stricken Harris and his team-mates Noah Williams, Donavan Brazier and Amerre Lattin.
And so the evening final turned out to be an all-European affair.
Some burn up it proved to be, too, the one Borlee brother in the Belgian quartet – Kevin – securing gold with a storming 46.06 anchor leg.
Jonathan dropped out of the squad injured before the championships and Dylan was replaced by Jonathan Sacoor in the final after doing his job in the morning heats.
That left the Belgians with three of the four runners who finished fourth in the Olympic final in Tokyo last year: Alexander Doom on leg two, Sacoor on three and Borlee on four, with Julien Watrin leading off.
It was Spain who led on the opening leg in the shape of Bruno Hortelano-Roig, Nick Smidt edging the Netherlands in front on leg two, with Belgium back in fourth, and then Manuek Guijarro regaining pole position for the Spaniards on the penultimate leg.
Bernat Erta took off with a big lead for Spain on the anchor leg but Borlee narrowed the gap before kicking to victory in the home straight in 3:06.52.
Erta held on to second place for Spain in 3:06.82 with Tony van Diepen securing bonze for the Netherlands in 3:06.90.
Simon Turnbull for World Athletics
|MEN'S 4x400m MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Belgium 🇧🇪 BEL||3:06.52 SB|
|🥈||Spain 🇪🇸 ESP||3:06.82 SB|
|🥉||Netherlands 🇳🇱 NED||3:06.90 SB|