Thursday, August 17, 2017

V 7 N. 57 (10) Jon Hendershott's Most Memorable Relays by Women's Teams


Part X—Women’s Relays.

by Jon Hendershott

4 x 100:
This one is easy—my most memorable women’s 4x1 also set the standing World Record: the barrier-breaking 40.82 by the U.S. quartet at the ’12 Olympics. The Americans hadn’t won the sprint relay crown since Atlanta ’96, but in London, they not only scored the victory but also became the first nation ever to duck under 41-flat.
The USA mark destroyed the former record of 41.37, set back in 1985 by the drug-fueled East Germans, as well as the former AR (41.47 by the ’97 national team) and Games best (41.60 by East Germany from ’80).
The Americans ran the fastest heat at 41.64 with a unit of 100 4th-placer Tianna Bartoletta (taking time away from the long jump to concentrate on sprinting), Jeneba Tarmoh, Bianca Knight and Lauryn Williams. Ukraine (42.36) took the other prelim from Jamaica (42.37), which ran a team of Samantha Henry-Robinson, Sherone Simpson, Schillonie Calvert and Kerron Stewart.
For the final, both nations brought out their big guns. The Americans in lane 7 slotted in Allyson Felix on the second leg and Carmelita Jeter at anchor, while the islanders in lane 6 used two-time 100 winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to lead off while ultra-vet Veronica Campbell-Brown handled the third carry.
Fraser-Pryce gave the Jamaicans a bit of an edge on the opening leg, but then Felix got her long legs unwound down the backstretch to give the Americans a lead they would never surrender. Campbell-Brown made up a little ground on the second turn, but Knight still gave Jeter about a 2-meter cushion to start the anchor sprint.
Century silver winner Jeter surged down the final straight and had enough of a margin at the line to glance to her left at the trackside timer. She roared in delight after seeing the official time; Jamaica came home 2nd in 41.41, then the No. 3 time ever. Ukraine (NR 42.04) finished 3rd.

Women's 4x100 London 2012 View Here

Jeter later explained, “A lot of people kept doubting us; ‘can they do it?’ We showed we could do it. When we walked to the call room, we joked with the lady escorting us. We said how much fun we were having. I knew right there that we would be alright.
“As I was running, I could see the clock tick over: 37, 38, 39, then 40. Then in my heart I said, ‘We just did it!’”

4 x 400:
My first thought on my most memorable women’s 4x4 goes back to the ’84 Los Angeles Olympics, when the U.S. won by nearly 3.0 in 3:18.29. Of course, the Eastern Bloc absence from LA (for “security reasons” claimed many of the nations, when it was clearly in retaliation for the U.S.’s boycott of the ’80 Moscow Games) diluted the field somewhat. Yet the winning USA foursome broke both the American and Olympic Records.
Most remarkable for me, though, was anchor Chandra Cheeseborough, who wrapped up the title less than an hour after handling the third stint on the 4 x 100 champions. “Cheese” thus became the first woman to win golds on both relay teams.

Yet the four-lap relay that really stands out most for me came at the ’93 Worlds in Stuttgart, a race again won by the Americans, this time in 3:16.71. The quartet of Gwen Torrence (49.0), Maicel Malone (49.4), Natasha Kaiser-Brown (49.48) and Jearl Miles-Clark (48.78) outpaced Russia’s 3:18.38. Russia—or the “Unified team” as it was called then after the collapse of the Soviet Union but still using athletes from former “republics” like Ukraine—had won the ’92 Olympic title in Barcelona.
In the Stuttgart race, short dash star Torrence gave the U.S. a lead it never relinquished. But Russia did counter on the final lap with its own sprint ace in Irina Privalova, who split a fastest-of-race 48.47. But the lead enjoyed by Miles-Clark was too much and the Americans produced the No. 2 time in U.S. history.

Women's 4x400 Stuttgart 1993 Clik Here
Miles-Clark compiled a second-to-none record on U.S. 4x4 squads, running in seven World Champs finals and three Olympics. Those teams claimed three global wins and two Games, plus silvers in three more Worlds and an additional Olympics. JMC defined what it meant to be a true team runner.

(Next: women’s jumping events)

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