A United States men’s 4x100m relay team led off by individual 100m champion Christian Coleman and anchored by individual 200m champion Noah Lyles was always going to have a chance of gold – assuming they avoided the fallibility that has often dogged their nation’s sprint relay ambitions.
This they did as they transported the baton all the way round in total security in 37.10 – the second fastest time ever run behind the 36.84 recorded by the Jamaican team that Usain Bolt anchored to victory at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
It also beat the US record of 37.38 set at the 2015 World Relays.
So the unhappy US memories of disqualification in both the 2015 world final and the following year’s Olympic final were banished…
Despite losing their title, the British quartet were also left smiling as they put it all together to take silver in a European record of 37.36, eclipsing the time of 37.47 they had run in securing a home victory in London’s Olympic Stadium two years ago.
Bronze in a contest that delivered on all it had promised went to Japan, who broke through with a superbly co-ordinated effort that ended with Abdul Hakim Sani Brown briefly threatening to overtake Britain’s last leg runner Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake before crossing in an Asian record of 37.43.
There was an Area record in fourth place also as Brazil, with Paulo Andre Camilo De Oliveira bringing the baton home, clocked 37.72.
There was a symmetry in the US team as Coleman, aged 23, and Lyles, running in his first World Championships aged 22, book-ended two of their nation’s longest standing sprinters in 37-year-old Justin Gatlin, the 2017 individual champion, and 34-year-old Michael Rodgers.
“We had a meeting at breakfast, and decided if we ran a super-fast time we could do this,” Rogers said on the infield in the aftermath of the first US victory in this event since 2007, at the Osaka World Championships. It’s been a long wait.
Lyles was in exuberant mood, taking the opportunity to praise his more taciturn colleague Coleman for “stepping up as a leader” before announcing to the wider world: “USA won all the gold medals!”
It was an assertion that gained force by the fact that the victorious team’s lap of honour had to be respectfully halted for the medal ceremony of compatriot Joe Kovacs after his stupendous effort of 22.91m in what was the greatest shot put contest ever seen.
The omens for this final were hugely favourable.
Britain’s team of Adam Gemili, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Mitchell-Blake had won their opening heat in 37.56, the fastest time in the world since their gold medal in London in 2017, from Brazil, who equalled the South American record of 37.90, and the United States, who recorded a season’s best of 38.03.
For Japan, this was another superb flourish to follow their silver-medal winning performance at the Rio 2016 Games, when they were promoted from bronze following the disqualification of the United States, running an Asian record of 37.60.
Two of that quartet were on show tonight – Sani Brown, and third leg runner Yoshihide Kiryu, with the opening legs being run by Shuhei Tada and Kirara Shiraishi.