Olympic Women’s 4 x 400: A Golden Quartet

Athing Mu (with baton) & Dalilah Muhammad were the second half of Team USA’s fearsome foursome. (ANDREW McCLANAHAN/PHOTO RUN)

AFTER MUCH TONGUE WAGGING about who should/must/would comprise the foursome for the final, the U.S. put a golden quartet of runners on the track. They won the race by a gaping 30m with a 3:16.85, history’s No. 5 performance.

The all-superstar American squad was the first ever to line up in a global championships with all its members already owning individual Olympic gold medals.

It included Allyson Felix (going for her fourth straight gold in the event), the world’s two fastest 400 hurdlers ever, Sydney McLaughlin & Dalilah Muhammad — gold and silver medalists here — and Mu, the 800 winner. Felix was the only open 400 participant, where she had run to a bronze.

Leadoff Leg
McLaughlin began the rout conservatively. Running in lane 7, running virtually even with Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek, although both appeared to trail Jamaican Roneisha McGregor on the backstretch, but only by a slim margin. McLaughlin and Kaczmarek ran best through the turn as McGregor faded. Kaczmarek was strong in the homestretch and handed off 2nd, almost a meter behind McLaughlin, athough each was credited with a 50.2. Lieke Klaver handed off 3rd for Netherlands in 50.6, with McGregor at 50.8.

Second Leg
Felix ran fastest from the start, immediately building a lead on Poland’s Iga Baumgart-Witan. At the break Felix held almost 10m over the Pole, with Jamaica’s Janieve Russell within another meter. But by the end of the backstretch, Poland was only 5m down, with Jamaica and Canada’s Maddy Price trailing in single file, only a stride between each of them.

Felix stretched her lead on the straight, finishing her leg in 49.4. Only a late surge by the Poles got the margin back to 5m at the exchange as Baumgart-Witan ran 49.9. Jamaica was now 3rd after Russell’s 50.0, while Canada had climbed to 4th on Price’s 49.9, while a slow 52.0 leg had left Netherlands out of the mix in 7th. Britain’s Jodie Williams ran a quick 49.4 to move up to 5th.

Third Leg
Muhammad ran quickly around the turn and down the backstretch, opening up a commanding 15m lead by the end of the straight. While Poland’s Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik slowly cut down the lead in the homestretch, Muhammad held firm, turning over a lead of some 12m after a 48.94, with Hołub-Kowalik at 49.89. Kyra Constantine had moved Canada into 3rd shortly after the handoff, and her 49.98 kept them barely ahead of Jamaica, whose Shericka Jackson ran 50.18.

Anchor Leg
Mu, who had anchored Texas A&M with a 48.85 at the NCAA in June, strode quickly around the first turn, then turned up the heat on the backstretch. Opening a stunning 20-meter lead over Polish anchor Justyna Święty-Ersetic on the straight, Mu added another 10 over her final 200, her leg of 48.32 being the fastest in the race. Święty-Ersetic ran 50.44 after trying unsuccessfully to keep Mu close. Candice McLeod, 5th in the 400 final, brought Jamaica home 3rd with her 50.35, as Canada finished 4th in 3:21.84.

A stunning 48.97 anchor by Femke Bol, one of three sub-49s in the race, brought Netherlands home 6th in 3:23.74. Belgium, 7th in 3:23.96 and Cuba, 8th in 3:26.92, added unprecedented depth to the race as best-ever marks for place were recorded for 6-7-8, with the two Benelux nations scoring NRs.

Wadeline Jonathas, Kendall Ellis, Kaylin Whitney and Lynna Irby will also receive golds as the four Americans who ran in the heats and turned in the fastest qualifying time, 3:20.86. OT winner Quanera Hayes had struggled in 7th in the Olympic final, and was the odd-one-out.

Mu, chosen to anchor the U.S. team despite not having run the 400 at the Trials, addressed the unusual nature of the team composition for the final: “Being that this relay was made up of athletes that are not even really 400-meter runners, I think that just shows how great the U.S. is. We have our specialities, but I think we’re all willing to broaden our athleticism.”

(note: while we have used the official figures as the basis for our splits, we think they will require refining down the road)


(August 07) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 84%)

1. United States 3:16.85 (WL, AL) (5W, 3A)

(Sydney McLaughlin 50.2, Allyson Felix 49.4, Dalilah Muhammad 48.94, Athing Mu 48.32);

2. Poland 3:20.53 NR (#8 nation)

(Natalia Kaczmarek 50.2, Iga Baumgart-Witan 50.0, Małgorzata Hołub-Kowalik 49.89, Justyna Święty-Ersetic 50.44);

3. Jamaica 3:21.24

(Roneisha McGregor 50.7, Janieve Russell 50.0, Shericka Jackson 50.18, Candice McLeod 50.35);

4. Canada 3:21.84

(Alicia Brown 51.0, Maddy Price 49.9, Kyra Constantine 49.98, Sage Watson 50.96);

5. Great Britain 3:22.59

(Ama Pipi 52.3, Jodie Williams 49.4, Emily Diamond 50.41, Nicole Yeargin 50.44);

6. Netherlands 3:23.74 NR

(Lieke Klaver 50.6, Lisanne de Witte 52.0, Laura de Witte 52.17, Femke Bol 48.97);

7. Belgium 3:23.96 NR

(Naomi van den Broeck 51.9, Imke Vervaet 50.2, Paulien Couckuyt 51.04, Camille Laus 50.89);

8. Cuba 3:26.92

(Zurian Hechavarría 51.5, Rose M. Almanza 51.4, Sahily Diago 52.27, Lisneidy Veitía 51.76)

(best-ever mark-for-place: 6–8)

(lanes: 2. Netherlands; 3. Canada; 4. Poland; 5. Jamaica; 6. Cuba; 7. United States; 8. Belgium; 9. Great Britain)

(reaction times: 0.145 United States, 0.163 Great Britain, 0.173 Belgium, 0.179 Canada, 0.183 Poland, 0.192 Jamaica, 0.207 Netherlands, 0.219 Cuba)

Women’s 4×4 Order By Leg

Leg 1
1. United States 50.2; 2. Poland 50.2; 3. Netherlands 50.6; 4. Jamaica 50.7; 5. Canada 51.0; 6. Cuba 51.5; 7. Belgium 51.9; 8. Great Britain 52.3

Leg 2
1. United States 1:39.59; 2. Poland 1:40.20; 3. Jamaica 1:40.71; 4. Canada 1:40.90; 5. Great Britain 1:41.74; 6. Belgium 1:42.03; 7. Netherlands 1:42.60; 8. Cuba 1:42.89

Leg 3
1. United States 2:28.53; 2. Poland 2:30.09; 3. Canada 2:30.88; 4. Jamaica 2:30.89; 5. Great Britain 2:32.15; 6. Belgium 2:33.07; 7. Netherlands 2:34.77; 8. Cuba 2:35.16

HEATS (August 05)

I–1. Poland 3:23.10 (Anna Kiełbasińska 51.0, Baumgart-Witan 50.2, Hołub-Kowalik 50.43, Święty-Ersetic 51.42); 2. Cuba 3:24.04 (Hechavarría 51.7, Almanza 50.8, Diago 51.34, Veitía 50.13); 3. Belgium 3:24.08 NR (van den Broeck 51.7, Vervaet 50.7, Couckuyt 51.08, Laus 50.61);

4. Germany (Ger) 3:24.77 (fastest-ever non-qualifier) (Corinna Schwab 51.1, Carolina Krafzik 50.9, Laura Müller 50.96, Ruth Sophia Spelmeyer-Preuß 51.84); 5. France 3:25.07 (Sokhna Lacoste 51.2, Amandine Brossier 50.7, Brigitte Ntiamoah 52.18, Floria Guei 51.05); 6. Switzerland 3:25.90 NR (Léa Sprunger 51.3, Silke Lemmens 51.3, Rachel Pellaud 51.07, Yasmin Giger 52.23); 7. Australia 3:30.61 (Bendere Oboya 52.3, Kendra Hubbard 53.8, Ellie Beer 51.85, Anneliese Rubie-Renshaw 52.63);… dnf—Bahamas (Doneisha Anderson, Megan Moss, Brianne Bethel, Anthonique Strachan).

II–1. United States 3:20.86 (WL)

(Kaylin Whitney 50.8, Wadeline Jonathas 49.7, Kendall Ellis 50.06, Lynna Irby 50.34);

2. Jamaica 3:21.95 (Junelle Bromfield 51.1, McGregor 49.8, Russell 49.52, Stacey-Ann Williams 51.57); 3. Great Britain 3:23.99 (Diamond 51.6, Zoey Clark 50.9, Laviai Nielsen 50.92, Yeargin 50.59); 4. Netherlands 3:24.01 NR (Klaver 51.2, Li. de Witte 51.8, La. de Witte 51.85, Bol 49.14); 5. Canada 3:24.05 (Brown 51.8, Watson 50.6, Price 50.80, Constantine 50.90);

6. Ukraine 3:24.50 (fastest-ever non-qualifier) (Kateryna Klymyuk 52.0, Alina Lohvynenko 51.1, Viktoriya Tkachuk 51.05, Anna Ryzhykova 50.31); 7. Italy 3:27.74 (Maria Benedicta Chigbolu 52.0, Alice Mangione 50.7, Petra Nardelli 52.13, Rebecca Borga 52.85); 8. Belarus 3:33.00 (Aliaksandra Khilmanovich 52.4, Yuliya Bliznets 51.7, Elvira Herman 55.34, Asteria Limai 53.56).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 6) ◻︎

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