World Champs Men’s 4 x 400 — U.S. Gearing Up For Next Year

Michael Cherry ran the race’s fastest lap, 43.6, then handed off to Wil London. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

AMIDST THE gnashing of teeth over the loss of injured 400 favorite Michael Norman and having advanced only one to the 1-lap final, Team USA blossomed into one of the best foursomes ever. Turning in a sterling 2:56.69, the world’s fastest time since the ’08 Olympics and the 11th fastest ever, the U.S. team of Fred Kerley, Michael Cherry, Wil London and Rai Benjamin won from the front. Given a solid opening by Kerley, the U.S never trailed and turned the race into a single-file parade, with Jamaica, Colombia and Belgium always running in the immediate trailing positions. The U.S. team made it clear that next year was an important key. “It was about the motivation for 2020,” explained Kerley.

Opening Leg

Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield was out best, holding the lead on the backstretch and widening through the second bend. At the top of the homestraight, he held a margin of a bit more than a meter on Kerley, who was running a lane to the inside of the Jamaican. But Kerley’s stretch drive more than made up the difference, as he handed off 3m to the good, his 44.5 taking the measure of Bloomfield’s 44.9. Belgium’s Jonathan Sacoor (45.3) and Colombia’s Alejandro Perlaza (45.4) were next to touch off, with Italy also in the picture.

Second Leg

Cherry whipped through the first turn, increasing the U.S. advantage to 6m over Jamaica’s Nathon Allen at the backstretch break-point. Cherry settled into rhythm down the straight, Allen picking up a meter heading into the turn. They held those positions through the curve, Colombia and Belgium running 3rd and 4th, but some 8m behind the fleeing leaders. Cherry maintained his form down the stretch while Allen faded significantly, Cherry finishing in 43.6, the race’s fastest split. Allen’s 44.2 was quick, but Cherry had padded the U.S margin by another 4m. Belgium’s Robin Vanderbemden ran 44.5, catching Colombian Diego Armando Palomeque (44.7) in the homestretch, the Belgians trailing Jamaica by little more than 5m at the exchange.

Third Leg

London received a clean pass from Cherry and quickly added to the U.S. margin early in the turn. But as the runners neared the backstretch, Terry Thomas was trying to pull Jamaica closer. At the end of the backstretch Jamaica trailed by a scant 2m, and Thomas was tucked in, ready to pounce. But when they finished the turn it was instead London who pounced, pulling away steadily to get the U.S. back to a 7m gap after his 44.43. Thomas had run 44.3, with Belgium’s Dylan Borlée (44.7) handing off almost 5m to the good of Colombia, whose John Alexander Solís clocked 45.0.

Anchor Leg

Benjamin strode around the first turn strongly enough to bait Jamaican anchor Demish Gaye into the mistake of going out too quickly to make up the gap. Gaye let the American open the gap a bit more before slowly eating into the margin on the backstretch. But through the turn Benjamin began pulling away. For Gaye, it was too much of a margin to make up without Benjamin’s making a mistake. Despite a heel bruise which had him limping a bit, the hurdle star held strong, powering to the finish to end his 44.19 carry. He ended up 9m clear of Gaye’s 44.5, which gave Jamaica a silver-medal time of 2:57.90. Belgium, anchored by Kevin Borlée’s 44.2, took the bronze in 2:58.78, with Colombia finishing 4th in an NR 2:59.50.Team selection may have made the difference between gold and silver for the U.S., as the staff chose to go with the people showing the best recent form instead of those who had performed better at the USA nationals. Jamaica was the only relay team with two 400m finalists on the squad, but the U.S. depth and team selection won out. Belgium, long a top contender in the 4×4, won a medal for the first time at a global outdoor championship.

Cherry, the man with the fastest split in the race, said, “We are coming from these World Championships with a big motivation for 2020. And It’s a good thing that the World Championships is coming to the USA so that is going to be two important years for us.”


WC MEN’S 4 x 4 RESULTS

FINAL

(October 06) (temperature 75F/24C; humidity 64%)

1. United States 2:56.69 (WL, AL) (11W, 9A)

(Fred Kerley 44.5, Michael Cherry 43.6, Wil London 44.43, Rai Benjamin 44.19);

2. Jamaica 2:57.90

(Akeem Bloomfield 44.9, Nathon Allen 44.2, Terry Thomas 44.3, Demish Gaye 44.5);

3. Belgium 2:58.78

(Jonathan Sacoor 45.3, Robin Vanderbemden 44.5, Dylan Borlée 44.7, Kevin Borlée 44.2);

4. Colombia 2:59.50 NR

(Alejandro Perlaza 45.4, Diego Armando Palomeque 44.7, John Alexander Solís 45.0, Anthony Zambrano 44.4);

5. Trinidad 3:00.74

(Asa Guevara 46.0, Jereem Richards 44.3, Deon Lendore 45.3, Machel Cedenio 45.1);

6. Italy 3:02.78

(Davide Re 45.5, Vladimir Aceti 45.8, Matteo Galvan 45.9, Edoardo Scotti 45.6);

7. France 3:03.06

(Ludvy Vaillant 45.7, Christopher Naliali 45.7, Thomas Jordier 45.4, Mame-Ibra Anne 46.3);

… dnf—Great Britain

(Cameron Chalmers 45.8, Toby Harries 45.7 [drop], Rabah Yousif, Lee Thompson).

Lanes: 2. Great Britain; 3. France; 4. United States; 5. Jamaica; 6. Colombia; 7. Belgium; 8. Italy; 9. Trinidad.
Reaction times: 0.150 Belgium; 0.164 United States; 0.171 Great Britain; 0.177 Trinidad; 0.184 Colombia; 0.185 Italy; 0.190 France; 0.206 Jamaica.

— 4×4 Order By Leg —

Leg 1: 1. United States 44.5; 2. Jamaica 44.9; 3. Belgium 45.3; 4. Colombia 45.4; 5. Italy 45.4; 6. France 45.7; 7. Great Britain 45.8; 8. Trinidad 46.0

Leg 2: 1. United States 1:28.07; 2. Jamaica 1:29.1; 3. Belgium 1:29.8; 4. Colombia 1:30.1; 5. Trinidad 1:30.3; 6. Italy 1:31.3; 7. France 1:31.4; 8. Great Britain 1:31.5

Leg 3: 1. United States 2:12.50; 2. Jamaica 2:13.4; 3. Belgium 2:14.5; 4. Colombia 2:15.1; 5. Trinidad 2:15.6; 6. Italy 2:17.2; 7. France 2:16.8

HEATS

(October 05)

I–1. United States 2:59.89 (Tyrell Richard 45.5, Vernon Norwood 45.2, London 44.5, Nathan Strother 44.7); 2. Colombia 3:01.06 NR (Perlaza 45,3, Palomeque 45.5, Solís 45.8, Zambrano 44.5); 3. Italy 3:01.60 (Re 44.3); 4. Great Britain 3:01.96 (Martyn Rooney 45.6);

5. Japan 3:02.05 (Kota Wakabayashi 45.6); 6. Spain 3:04.27 (Darwin Andrés Echeverry 45.9); 7. Australia 3:05.49 (Ian Halpin 47.3);… dq—Botswana.

II–1. Jamaica 3:00.76 (Bloomfield 45.4, Allen 44.9, Thomas 45.1, Francis 45.4); 2. Belgium 3:00.87 (K. Borlée 44.6); 3. Trinidad 3:01.35 (Lendore 45.9); 4. France 3:01.40 (Anne 45.6);

5. South Africa 3:02.06 (Derrick Mokaleng 45.4); 6. Czech Republic 3:02.97 (Vít Müller 45.5); 7. India 3:03.09 (Noah Nirmal Tom 44.9); 8. Qatar 3:06.25 (Mohammad Nasser Abbas 46.3). ◻︎

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