OG 2012 Track & Field: August 10: American 4×100 women make history, but so do the U.S. 4×400 men

LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2012 – A record set by a county that no longer exists was blown away by the U.S. women’s 4 x 100 m, who took 0.55 off a 27-year-old record held by the German (not very-) Democratic Republic with a sensational 40.82 time.

It was a startling performance on a mixed day for the U.S., which saw 1500 m medal favorite Morgan Uceny fall for the second straight championship final, and the U.S. lost the 4 x 400 m relay for the first time since 1952.

[Before we get going, please note (1) we’re using the Track & Field News Olympic previews as our form charts, and (2) we’re using the IAAF’s points-scoring system of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for eight places.]

Qualifying:
The U.S. women’s 4 x 400 m quartet of Keshia Baker, Francena McCorory, Diamond Dixon and DeeDee Trotter didn’t have too much trouble, winning the second heat in 3:22.09. Dixon took over the lead from the Russians on the third leg and Trotter stormed to the finish to lead all qualifiers. Look for Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross to be added to the American team for the final; hard to imagine anything other than a gold medal here; it would be the fifth in a row on the track, although the 2000 team was disqualified later for Marion Jones’s drug positive.

The men’s 4×100 m team of Jeff Demps, Darvis Patton, Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin not only got the stick around, but set a new American record of 37.38, no. 4 all-time and bettering the 37.40 Olympic winner and then-world record (anchored by Carl Lewis) from Barcelona in 1992! Subbing Tyson Gay for Kimmons to the third leg tomorrow should mean another AR, but it still may not be enough against Bolt & Co. Is Gatlin the 2012 version of Eddie Hart in 1972?

Men’s Pole Vault:
The U.S. lost a projected medal as Brad Walker cleared no height, missing three times at 18-6 1/2 (5.65 m). After winning the first 16 Olympic competitions in a row from 1896-1968, the U.S. has won a medal in only five of the succeeding 11 Games and now hasn’t medaled at all since 2004 in Athens, when Tim Mack and Toby Stevenson went 1-2.

Germany was the big winner on points in the event, scoring 13 with the silver and bronze medalists (still -3 on the dope).

Women’s Hammer:
Tatyana Lysenko of Russia nailed an Olympic record of 254-5 (77.56 m) in the first round, but Germany’s Betty Heidler threatened her in the fifth round with a throw that was right at the “gold-medal line,” but the distance didn’t come up due to some kind of malfunction of the measuring system, and was then called a foul. It took half an hour, but she was finally credited with 253-0 (77.13 m) and the bronze medal. No doubt more protests will ensue.

Lysenko improved to 256-6 (78.18 m) in the sixth round and won, but even so, the eight points for Russia was -3 vs. the dope sheet.

Women’s 5,000 m:
Ethiopians and Kenyans took the top six places, in alternating positions, with the British runners in seventh and eighth. Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba and Gelete Burka scored 18 points (+4 vs. the dope), with the Kenyan trio of Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego and Viola Kibiwot tallying (-4).

Molly Huddle of the U.S. was projected for seventh (two points), but she and Julie Culley were relegated to the back of the pack with three laps to go and finished 11th (Huddle, 15:20.29) and 14th (Culley, 15:28.22).

Women’s 4 x 100 m relay:
40.82!

“This is as close to perfection in relay running as we will see,” said the BBC’s Stuart Storey after the U.S. crushed the DDR record of 41.37 from the 1985 World Cup. Tianna Madison ran away from Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on the opening leg, and then the American lead got bigger from there, thanks to Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter.

How good was the race? The time would rank no. 7 on this year’s U.S. BOYS high school list!

To use a vastly overused word that actually applies . . . that was AWESOME.

Women’s 1,500 m:
Lightning does strike twice, as Morgan Uceny fell and tumbled to the track with a lap to go as the pace revved up for a fast finish, eventually won by Turkey’s Asli Cakir at a pedestrian 4:10.23. Uceny fell with 150 meters to go in last year’s World Championships final in Daegu as well.

She was favored for a bronze medal and with Shannon Rowbury sixth, the U.S. scored three points against seven on the dope sheet. Russia’s Tatyana Tomashova was fourth, -1 vs. the dope sheet.

Men’s 4 x 400 m relay:
Another disappointment for the U.S., losing this race for the first time after 12 straight finals wins in which the Americans had finished the race, going back to 1956. U.S. teams failed to win in 1972 (no team) and 1980 (didn’t compete), and won on the track, but was disqualified for doping in 2000.

Bryshon Nellum, Josh Mance and Tony McQuay had the U.S. first at the final hand-off to Angelo Taylor, but Ramon Miller’s 43.8 split (from Peter Matthews in the BBC booth) was enough to pass Taylor down the final straightaway. Missing LaShawn Merritt, who brought the U.S. from behind to win at Daegu in 2011, really hurt in the end.

Even so, all honor to Manteo Mitchell’s opening leg for the U.S. in the heats yesterday, which was completed with a broken leg! No wonder he ran 46.1 . . . but Mance followed with a 44.6, then McQuay at 43.65 and Nellum at 44.37 to get the U.S. to the final.

Where are we?
Men: After eight days and with 19 of 24 events scored, the U.S. is running away with the team title at 143 points, with Jamaica standing second at 45. But let’s be honest, American hearts are beating slower after the loss in the 4 x 400 m relay.

The U.S. men have 14 medals, one less than projected at this point, with Jamaica at six and Germany and Kenya at four each.

Women: After eight days and with 19 of 23 events scored, the U.S. has 119 points (+1 points vs. the dope) to 79 for Russia (-40), but it isn’t over as the Russians have a large contingent in tomorrow’s events. This was easily the “worst” day for the U.S. women in this meet, with Uceny’s disappointment in the 1500 m.

The U.S. women have 12 medals, one more than expected at this point, with Russia at nine (as projected at this point). The Ethiopians have five, ahead of Kenya and Jamaica at four each.
Overall: The U.S. has a combined total of 262 points, well ahead of Russia (104.5), Jamaica at 93 and Ethiopia and Kenya (52) at 83.

Current scoresheets:
• Olympic T&F team scoring tracker after Day 8: click here.
• Olympic T&F medal scoring tracker after Day 8: click here.
• Full IAAF Placing Table scoring: click here.

More each day after the close of competition; stay tuned!

(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at www.twitter.com/RichPerelman.)

4 Comments

  1. Men’s 4 x 400 relay final – why didn’t we go with McQuay or Nellum on the anchor leg ? I know we were short-handed with all the injuries, but after McQuay’s 43+ in the heats, why not go with the Gator ? Who has a better relay pedigree than the Jackrabbit from Long Beach Poly, Nellum ?

  2. The men’s 400 meter in the US has been losing ground to the world steadily since the last Olympics. Our depth is gone.

    The men’s 1500 in the US is better now because we have racers rather than runners (like Alan Webb).

  3. I don’t think you should be too disappoited with the 4×400. The Bahamas clocked the 11th fastest time ever, bettered only by 8 US teams an 2 British teams. With a healthy LaShawn Merrit you would most likely have won the race.
    The US quartermiling may have lost a little ground, but you’ve got so much talent over there and I’m pretty sure you will bounce back.

    Kind regards
    Morten Sorensen, Denmark

  4. The Mens 4×100 is going to be closer then people think. Ryan Bailey (5th in the 100 meters) will also run in the finals for the United States. So they broke the US Record will resting Tyson Gay and Bailey. Speaking of Gay, I would have liked to see him in the 4×400 at opening leg. After all he has a 44.3 PR.

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