The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

London Olympics – Jamaica 4×1, 36.84 WR

Aug 12th, 2012
8:46 am PDT

Usain BoltSaturday was the final day of action on the track, and the meet closed out in style with a surprise or two; outstanding performances; and another world record.

The field events led the way in the surprise department. First in the women’s high jump several big names made early exits, including Emma Greene Tregaro (SWE), Chaunte Lowe (USA); and defending champion Tia Hellebaut (BEL). In the end it was World champion Anna Chicherova (RUS), veteran Svetlana Shkolina (RUS) and collegiate champion Brigetta Barrett (USA) jumping at 2.03m/6’8" to decide the medals – first attempt clearance for Chicherova taking gold, second clearance for Barrett earning silver, and third attempt gaining bronze for Shkolina, as Chicherova would go on to clear 2.05m/6’8.75". The clearance by Barrett was a big time personal best for the young American in the pressure of the Games. As with so many other performances we’ve seen in throughout the Games it looks like another event is going to shift going forward.

While Barrett making the podium in the high jump was a surprise, the winner of the men’s javelin was, simply put, a complete shock! Young Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad took the lead on his first throw (83.51m/273.11"); then hit his gold medal toss (84.58m/277’6") in the second round as the rest of the field tried in vain to catch him! In an event dominated by Europeans (Euros finished 2 thru 8) Walcott was undoubtedly the biggest surprise medalist of the meet – let alone gold medalist! To be honest I didn’t even know Trinidad had a javelin thrower. But a quick search of the Internet and I discovered that Mr. Walcott won this years World Junior Championships. Now I find myself asking why WE are having so much trouble finding javelin throwers! And Walcott was no fluke add all of his legal throws were beyond 80 meters. Big up to the young man who won’t turn twenty until February!  Trinidad may have a champion here for a while.

On the track things were hot even when they were slow as the men’s 5000 took out at a slow pace even for championship racing. In a field where nine men had PB’s under 13:00 the runners went out around 14:00 pace – a literal crawl. It was beyond tactical, as the bunched field circled the track over and over waiting apparently for the last two laps, because that’s when the race started as all the kickers began to fight for the podium. In the end, the best turned out to be Mo Farah who controlled and dominated the final lap to add the 5000 title to the 10000 gold he won at the beginning of the meet. Like Jessica Ennis, he overcame the pressure of being a hometown favorite and won the distance double – the first ever by a Brit. Farah proved in London to be both fast and smart – the winning combination for distance medals at these Games.

The track portion of the Olympics closed out with two big relays. First was the women’s 4×4 where the big anticipation was how fast would the US squad run? With 400 bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter leading off and 200 champion Allyson Felix and 400 champion Sanya Richards Ross on board the question was would they get close to the AR of 3:15.51. After Trotter led off in 50.5, Felix set sail around the track, and 47.8 seconds later handed off to Francena McCorory. That’s the first sub 48 split since 1988, and gives further indication that the 400 may be Allyson’s best event! A 49 by McCorory and a 48 by R, Ross and a record was possible. Francena hit her 49, but the long meet (rounds in the 400 and 200) finally took their toll on Sanya who "only" split 49.2 in her solo run around the track as the US scored a 3:16.87 victory over runner up Russia’s 3:20.23! The winning time was the equal fifth fastest time in history, and with all of these women still young a shot at the WR 3:15.17 may be in the cards in the near future.

Finally, one of the most anticipated races of the week, the men’s 4×1 was up. Talk about a set up t a race. The US dominated the event up thru 2007. Then a) the US dropped the stick in ’08, ’09, and ’11; and b) Jamaica won every title during that time frame AND took the WR to 37.04! Coming into the meet the US desperately wanted to a) get the baton around the track, b) get the record back, c) achieving "b" would mean a defeat of Jamaica. In the semis both squads ran well, Jamaica winning the first semi in 37.39 without Bolt; the US winning the second in 37.38 without Gay and Bailey. To add to the drama they were lined up with Jamaica in lane 6 set to chase the US in lane 7. The very definition of Must See TV.

At the gun it was Nesta Carter of Jamaica against Trell Kimmons of the US and they passed relatively even. Down the backstretch went Justin Gatlin and Michael Frater with Gatlin winning that battle and handing off to Tyson Gay ahead of Frater’s pass to Yohan Blake. At this point I would’ve bet on watching Bolt attempting to catch the US anchor in ithe stretch, but Blake did something yet to be seen, he closed on Gay around the bend! The lead gone Gay and Blake handed off relatively even to Bailey and Bolt. Both men flew down the straight but the race was over as one would expect from 9.6 racing 9.8 as the margin of victory was that .20. Bailey did himself and the US proud, but Bolt and Jamaica crossed the line in 36.84, with the US at 37.04. A new WR for Jamaica with the US equaling the previous record! Jamaica becomes the first team under 37 seconds and Bolt claimed his third gold of the Games to duplicate Beijing. The US proved that it could get the stick around the track and while Jamaica won, that this race is a two team race – and hopefully we’ll see more of the two squads on the track. One of the most exciting relays I’ve seen, as it was fast AND competitive throughout. Disappointed that the US lost, but if you’re going to lose do it running well and make your opponent do something spectacular. The US got a new national record and Jamaica broke the WR and a barrier. It doesn’t get better than that. On to Moscow!

So ended the Olympics. I have lots to talk about. The transitions being made in the sport. The wonderful performances of the US women. The strength of the Jamaican men in the sprints. What’s going on in the hurdles. Wither the US male sprinters. Progress in US distances. So much happened in London, it should take weeks to get through it all. And there will be more meets to close out the year. So a LOT to talk about. Be back shortly.

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10 Responses to “London Olympics – Jamaica 4×1, 36.84 WR”

  1. Rohan says:

    Sir Con, you didn’t even have Mo on the podium for the 5000. huh?
    I saw where you got some of the predictions dead on( i never doubted your knowlege of the sports) but it could even be better had you not allowed what i call Nationalism to overule your better judgement.

    • CHill says:

      I thought the 10 would take more out of Mo and the pace would go quicker than the turn off the previous century .. i thought he would be around 5th or do .. As for “nationalism” I was usually within a place .. Two big ones were Uceny falling again and Bolt not being injured .. But take note, every other athlete reported injured coming into the Games had to be carried off the track !! Sprints are the most volitile and the competition the toughest ever .. Clearly Bolt wasn’t injured and that affected several events .. I’ll be talking about all of that in upcoming articles .. So we can discuss each as i bring them up – and I’ll bring them all up ..

  2. Anderson says:

    As shwon on the 4×1 anchor leg, Baliey cannot run stride for stride with Bolt.
    Like you said A 9.8 guy gets run down by a 9.6 guy and looses the relay by exactly that .2.

    • CHill says:

      Not yet he can’t .. But he’s the only one with the physical potential to .. Still a “kid” with huge up side and with a coach that can teach him .. I like his future, and he should be the future of US sprinting along with a few others .. Plan on talking about that too .. So much to discuss going forward ..

      • Anderson says:

        When though? When Bolt was Baliey’s age he was running 9.5 and 19.1.

        The whole physical similarities to Bolt argument that Baliey has been getting for the past 2 years really is dry.
        Bolt is just massively more naturally talented that Baliey.
        I would be very surprised to see anyone besides Blake enter the 9.6 club in the next 4 years

        • CHill says:

          There’s never a guarantee with potential .. That’s why it’s called potential .. That said this was the first year Bailey was really coached .. Age aside, he’s a kid in the sport .. I give him two seasons, because that’s about how long it takes for John Smith athletes to blossom .. Then we’ll set if potential becomes reality ..

          And what are you basing that Bolt is more naturally talented, current results ?? That’s a trailing indicator not a leading one..

          I disagree that Blake is the only one with 9.6 potential, but I’ll address that in total talking about the sprints .. There’s a lot of young talent out there ..

  3. hopeton says:

    Good article and, as you said, so much to write about. These games were hard to predict, which is good, as it means that the athletes are stepping up.
    Looking forward to your future articles which I know I will find easier to agree with than your ‘predictions’ ones.
    No matter what, still a fan of your blog.

    • CHill says:

      I said from the beginning that these Games were going to be difficult to call .. Which is why I took a few chances .. Like l said, saw these Games as, changing things moving forward – transformational .. Lots of surprises all around .. Got a few right, got a few wrong .. Still lots of fun .. Will start looking at things within the next few hours ..

      • Ron says:

        Great recap of an unbelievable track and field day.

        I have been following Ryan Bailey since he was at McKay High School in Salem, OR. He had a very abbreviated track career in high school, but still set the 100 and 200 State records. His grades were such that he had no chance for a Division I track scholarship. Hence, he attended a JC for one semester and (I believe) set the National JC record for the 100 and 200, prompting a modest shoe contract. He has been beset with many injuries, including a broken ankle that allowed him to compete in only ONE race this year before the US Trials. He qualified for the Olympics, made the 100m final finishing fifth (9.88), and then made Bolt run allout in the 4X100. If Bailey stays with his coach (John Smith) and avoids serious injury, I believe he will surpass Bolt’s times. He has unbelievable upside potential in both the 100 and 200. May sound overly optomistic, but all one has to do is look at what he has accomplished with such little experience and racing. This guy is the real thing.

        • CHill says:

          I’ve talked to two of Bailey’s early coaches and both feel that he’s not even close to what he might be able to accomplish … their words not mine ..

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