Your Black Sports: US Relays Finally Get Golds

August 23, 2008

Sanya Richards needed a furious comeback. Jeremy Wariner could have walked to the finish.

The results were the same, though.

No dropped batons.

And gold medals. Finally.

In a pair of results that helped salvage the U.S. track and field team’s Olympics, Wariner, Richards and Allyson Felix led an American sweep of the 4×400-meter relays Saturday, an event that seems almost designed to bolster the U.S. team’s gold-medal count.

Richards anchored her team to a come-from-behind victory in 3 minutes, 18.54 seconds, the world’s fastest time since 1993. It was the fourth consecutive Olympic win for the USA in the women’s 4×400.

Wariner crossed the line 12 strides ahead of Christopher Brown of the Bahamas, finishing in 2:55.39 to break the Olympic record by 0.35 second.

The women’s race was hardly a breeze — unless you count that huge sigh of relief that came from the U.S. foursome.

In the final leg, Richards trailed Russia’s Anastasia Kapachinskaya for more than 300 meters, with no signs of closing the gap. But down the stretch, Richards finally took over — something she couldn’t do in her bronze-medal performance in the 400 on Tuesday — for the 0.28-second victory.

When she crossed the line, she threw out her right fist — baton tightly clenched inside of it, knowing a gold medal would soon be hung around her neck. The team huddled and cried. Tears of joy this time instead of disappointment.

There was no such drama in the men’s race, which featured two gold-medal winners — LaShawn Merritt, who upset Wariner in the 400, and Angelo Taylor, the 400 hurdles winner. Merritt put America in the lead early, Taylor widened the gap, David Neville held it and Wariner romped to the finish.


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