AFTER THE FORGETTABLE FINISH the U.S. forged in its heat, the window for the field in the final was literally left wide open.
Let us digress to see how we got to that point. In heat I, Jamaica won in 37.81, with Great Britain 2nd in 38.02 and Japan 3rd in 38.16 rounding out the automatic qualifiers. France (38.18) and Brazil (38.34) were on the time-qualifying bubble
Heat II lined up with the favored Americans in lane 3. OT 100 winner Trayvon Bromell, who had failed to make the century final here, handed off to silver medalist Fred Kerley. Kerley was ready to pass the baton to the 100’s 5th-placer, Ronnie Baker. But the poor exchange between Kerley and Baker left the Americans with a deficit that anchor Cravon Gillespie could not overcome. In fact, he was run down by Germany and Ghana and relegated to a non-qualifying 6th, 0.02 behind the latter.
“We just didn’t get the job done today. That’s all,” offered Kerley as the U.S.’s well-documented woes in the event continued.
Stateside reaction was predictably quick and harsh, with legendary Carl Lewis labeling the latest failure a “clown show.”
So, with the final set, who would take advantage of the void left by the U.S.? Certainly not Italy, no? The Azzurri weren’t even in our Top 10 formchart.
Starting with lane 2, the finalists lined up as Ghana, Germany, Canada, Jamaica, Great Britain, China, Italy and now-favored Japan.
The normally flawless home team botched its first exchange, however, and was suddenly out. The Italians got off to a decent start with Lorenzo Patta handing off to surprise 100 gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs.
CJ Ujah’s pass to Zharnel Hughes put Britain even with the Italians and China as they headed down the backstretch, but it was Jacobs who stole the show. Canada, meanwhile, was in the mix, but not one of contenders.
The second exchange saw Italy take the lead with Eseosa Desalu running the curve with Team GB’s Richard Kilty hot on his tail and China and Canada needing to make up ground.
The Britons had a marginal lead over Italy and former national record holder Filippo Tortu, but with Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake on anchor victory was definitely within grasp. Mitchell-Blake held the lead up until the final meters, but Tortu was able to edge him out with a superior lean at the line. This was the first time Italy has medaled since ’48.
Canadian anchor Andre De Grasse, already with the 100 bronze and 200 gold, got the baton in 4th, but stormed down the straight to claim bronze.
The Italians celebrated as Desalu proclaimed, “I’m sure having Marcell has motivated us. We are a great group, we trust each other, we worked very hard for this result.
“Winning this medal for me means I have fulfilled my dream, ‘To live even after my death.’ What I mean is that I want to be remembered forever.”
As for Jacobs, he said, “I still have to realize I won the gold medal in the 100m. The gold that we have just grabbed is worth more, it’s not simple to get it as a team, so I’m prouder of this one than the individual race.”
Mitchell-Blake took the loss in stride, saying “The guys all did a phenomenal job to put me in a position to bring home a medal. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang on for the gold. But I guess we go back as Olympic silver medalists, which doesn’t sound too bad.”
As for De Grasse, he reflected on his Olympic experience saying, “For me it was a great moment to win my sixth Olympic medal. I’m proud of these guys who helped me accomplish it. They went out there and did their thing.”
MEN’S 4 x 100 RESULTS
(August 06) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 79%)
1. Italy 37.50 NR (WL) (#5 nation)
(Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu, Filippo Tortu);
2. Great Britain 37.51
(CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake);
3. Canada 37.70
(Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney, Andre De Grasse);
4. China 37.79 =NR (=#10 nation)
(Xingqiang Tang, Zhenye Xie, Bingtian Su, Zhiqiang Wu);
5. Jamaica 37.84
(Jevaughn Minzie, Julian Forte, Yohan Blake, Oblique Seville);
6. Germany 38.12
(Julian Reus, Joshua Hartmann, Deniz Almas, Lucas Ansah-Peprah);
(Sean Safo-Antwi, Benjamin Azamati, Emmanuel Yeboah, Joseph Amoah);
(Shuhei Tada, Ryota Yamagata, Yoshihide Kiryu, Yuki Koike).
(lanes: 2. Ghana; 3. Germany; 4. Canada; 5. Jamaica; 6. Great Britain; 7. China; 8. Italy; 9. Japan)
(reaction times: Germany 0.136, Japan 0.139, Great Britain 0.141, Canada 0.148, China 0.153, Italy 0.154, Jamaica 0.158, Ghana 0.160)
HEATS (August 05)
I–1. Jamaica 37.82 (WL);
2. Great Britain 38.02; 3. Japan 38.16; 4. France 38.18 (Mouhamadou Fall, Jimmy Vicaut, Mickael-Méba Zeze, Ryan Zeze); 5. Brazil 38.34 (Rodrigo do Nascimento, Felipe dos Santos, Derick Silva, Paulo André de Oliveira); 6. Trinidad 38.63 (Kion Benjamin, Eric Harrison, Akanni Hislop, Richard Thompson);… dnf—Netherlands (Joris van Gool, Taymir Burnet, Christopher Garcia, Churandy Martina);… dnf—South Africa (Clarence Munyai, Shaun Maswanganyi, Chedrick Van Wyck, Akani Simbine).
II–1. China 37.92; 2. Canada 37.92; 3. Italy 37.95 NR; 4. Germany 38.06; 5. Ghana 38.08 NR;
6. United States 38.10 (AL) (Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker, Cravon Gillespie);
7. Denmark 38.16 NR (Simon Hansen, Tazana Kamanga-Dyrbak, Kojo Musah, Frederik Schou-Nielsen);… dq—Turkey (Ertan Özkan, Jak Ali Harvey, Kayhan Özer, Ramil Guliyev).
(best-ever mark-for-place: 7) ◻︎