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American Women Upset Jamaica in 4x100 To Win Gold, Men Settle for Silver
By: Tristan Sun
EUGENE, Oregon -- Americans Abby Steiner, Jenna Pradini, Twanisha Terry, and Melissa Jefferson won the women’s 4x100-meter relay at the track and field world championships on Saturday.
Pit against the Jamaican team with the three fastest women on Earth, the Americans delivered four excellent handoffs to pull off a massive upset. “You could have the four fastest women, but if you don’t have chemistry and the baton doesn’t move through the exchange zone, then what are you doing?” Terry said.
Their win was a surprise that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Jamaica, which swept the women’s 100-meters and won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, was the heavy favorite to run away with this event. But a poor first handoff hindered the Jamaicans, and Shericka Jackson couldn’t catch up to Terry before the finish line.
While the women were not favored in the 4x100, the star-studded U.S. men’s 4x100 team certainly was. Even without 100-meter champion Fred Kerley, who injured his hamstring during 200-meter preliminary heats, the United States was undoubtedly the heavy favorite.
Besides a slight bobble during the exchange between Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles, the race was progressing smoothly until the final handoff. Elijah Hall struggled to get the baton to anchor leg Marvin Bracy, falling over after the pass, spelling doom for the Americans. The Canadian Andre De Grass held off Bracy, allowing team Canada to win gold.
Unlike in longer relays such as the 4x200, a handoff in the 4x100 meters occurs when both athletes are at top speed (over 20 miles per hour). Also, the handoff is blind – the receiving athlete can’t see the person handing it to him. If all that wasn’t hard enough, most elite track teams try to pass the baton as late as possible, so the receiving runner is at top speed when he gets the baton.
The second-place finish was especially disappointing because they had just swept every medal in the 100 and 200 meters. “It’s bittersweet,” Bracy said. “When you sweep the 100 and the 200, you expect to come out here and perform better.”