The U.S. women’s 4x100m pulled off the upset. The U.S. men’s 4x100m got upset.
The penultimate day of the world track and field championships produced surprises in the final two races on Saturday night’s program.
Melissa Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini and TeeTee Terry stunned a Jamaican women’s quartet that included Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah, who swept the individual 100m medals. The U.S. prevailed by four hundredths in 41.14 seconds.
Jefferson had the best split of the leadoff runners, then Steiner outsplit Thompson-Herah by .24, enough for Prandini and Terry to hold off Fraser-Pryce and Jackson’s charge.
“[If] there’s no chemistry, there’s no trust to be able to move the baton through the exchanges, then you aren’t really going to produce what you think you can produce just because you have the three or four fastest women,” Terry said. “Our chemistry was so good that we didn’t even really have to do much when we warmed up.”
Twenty minutes later, Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy-Williams delivered silver rather than the expected gold. Canada, which won the men’s 4x100m at the last global championship held in the U.S. at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, edged the Americans by seven hundredths with Andre De Grasse anchoring.
The U.S. had subpar handoffs from Coleman to Lyles and even more so from Hall to Bracy-Williams on anchor.
The U.S. was without Fred Kerley, who won the individual 100m last Saturday as part of an American medals sweep, then suffered a quad injury in the 200m semifinals.
The U.S. is the greatest sprint nation in history, yet has swept the 4x100m golds at just one global championship (Olympics or worlds) in the last 29 years (22 meets). It is a testament that relays are not won purely by raw speed.
“A lot of people see that [silver] as a defeat, but to be honest with the struggles we’ve been having over the years, it’s just nice to get the stick around, run a fast time,” said Lyles, who was on the 2019 4x100m that earned the U.S. men’s lone gold since 2007.
Worlds finish Sunday with nine finals, including the women’s 800m (Athing Mu) and 100m hurdles (Keni Harrison), men’s pole vault (Mondo Duplantis) and decathlon finale and 4x400m relays.
Earlier Saturday, Allyson Felix made a surprise return to help the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay qualify for Sunday’s final. Felix, who thought last week’s mixed-gender 4x400m would be her last major race before retirement, was called in from Los Angeles (while eating hot wings and drinking a root beer float) to return to Eugene for the women’s 4x400m heats.
Felix, who was sixth at nationals in the individual 400m, had the fastest split of the four American women in the heat, but said she does not expect to be asked to be part of the final quartet. Expect 400m hurdles gold and bronze medalists Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad to be subbed in. Felix would still be in line for a record-extending 20th career world championships medal as prelim runners also receive medals.
Gudaf Tsegay gave Ethiopia a sweep of the women’s 5000m, 10,000m and marathon at worlds, taking the 5000m five days after earning silver in the 1500m and then being subbed into the nation’s 5000m lineup. She moved past Olympic gold medalist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands coming around the final curve. Hassan faded to sixth, one spot behind world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. On Her Turf has more on the women’s 5000m here.
Kenyan Emmanuel Korir followed his Tokyo Olympic gold with a world title in the 800m Korir overtook Canadian Marco Arop on the final straight. Algerian Djamel Sedjati also passed Arop for silver. No Americans made the final.
Like Korir, triple jumper Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal added a world title to his Olympic gold. No Americans earned a medal in the event for the first time since 2009.
Grenada javelin thrower Anderson Peters, who got his start throwing rocks at mango trees as a kid, repeated as world champion.
Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner of Canada pulled up with a left leg injury in the 400m, the fifth and final event of the first of two days of the competition. Warner was in the overall lead. Ayden Owens-Delerme of Puerto Rico, the NCAA champion from Michigan, took over the lead going into the last five events Sunday.