The United States’ male track athletes failed to win the 100m, 200m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 4x100m and mixed 4x400m relay – the first time they would be heading home without any golds from those events, with the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games which they boycotted.

In the 4x400m, however, they could have probably fielded B and C teams and gained a clean sweep of the medals if the rules had allowed.

The US challenge did not start perfectly as Michael Cherry ran a 44.2 opener but Botswana’s Isaac Makwala ran a sensational 43.8, probably the fastest opening leg in history at any event.

At this stage Trinidad [Deon Lendore 44.3] were a close third, Belgium fourth [Alexander Doom 44.9] and Netherlands fifth [Liemarvin Bonevacia 45.0], followed by Poland’s Dariusz Kowaluk [45.0], Jamaica [Demish Gaye 45.2] and Italy [Davide Re 45.2] for the highest quality first leg ever.

Michael Norman ran a controlled second leg for the USA and finished well. His run might only have been 44.0 but USA were ahead at halfway in 1:28.29, ahead of Botswana on 1:28.67 [Baboloki Thebe 44.7] who were just up on Poland on 1:28.71 [Karol Zalewski running another brilliant leg of 43.6].

Also in contention were the Netherlands [Terence Agard a shock 43.7] on 1:28.78, Trinidad on 1:28.98 [Jereem Richards 44.6], Belgium 1:29.02 [Jonathan Sacoor 44.0] and Jamaica on 1:29.20 after a 43.9 by Olympic finalist Christopher Taylor.

Even last-placed Italy, on 1:29.49 [Vladimir Aceti 44.2], were hoping for medals.

Bryce Deadmon, the one athlete to be retained from the heats, stretched out on leg three and his 44.01 meant the USA were clear in 2:12.30, with the Dutch now surprisingly in second on 2:13.06 after a 44.28 and strong finish by Tony van Diepen.

The minor medals were still up for grabs, though, as Botswana were right behind on 2:13.07 [Zibane Ngozi 44.40] with a slight gap to Belgium on 2:13.70 [Dylan Borlee 44.68], Poland on 2:14.15 [45.44 by Mateusz Rzezniczak] and Jamaica on 2:14.35 [Jaheel Hyde 45.15].

On the final leg USA went further away as 400m hurdles silver medallist Rai Benjamin exhibited his flat speed with a stunning solo 43.40 leg to give USA victory in a fast 2:55.70 for the second-fastest ever time in the Olympics, just missing their 2008 time in Beijing.

It was close for second and a great finish by Angela Ramsey, who ran 44.12 to complete a Dutch record 2:57.18, secured silver. Just behind them were a delighted Botswana as Bapayo Ndori ran 44.20 to complete an African record 2:57.27.

Belgium closed through Kevin Borlee’s 44.18 and that gave them 2:57.88 and the fourth national record in the top five.

After a gold in the mixed relay and silver in the women’s 4x400m, Poland probably hoped for a bronze here but a 44.31 split by Katejan Duszynski couldn’t quite make up for their third leg. However they still ran a fast 2:58.46 just ahead of Jamaica [2:58.76 after a 44.41 by Nathon Allen].

Italy completed a brilliant Games with a national record 2:58.81 with a 44.25 anchor leg by Alessandro Sibilio.

Source: AW