THE MORAL OF the women’s 4 x 400 was that success can turn to failure — and vice versa — very, very quickly.
On Budapest23’s opening day, in the mixed 4×4, Netherlands anchor Femke Bol felt the pressure of hard-charging American Alexis Holmes, lost her balance, and crashed to the track just shy of the finish. Holmes got gold and glory, Bol lost the baton and got a DNF.
Their fortunes reversed in the all-women’s version.
In the heats, Holmes broke a basic sports rule: keep your eye on the ball until it’s in your hands. The same applies to batons. She turned her head before taking possession (and stepped on the rail), and by the time she finally secured the pass from Quanera Hayes, she was beyond the zone and DQed.
Bol, by contrast, got “revenge.” That’s what she said she wanted after the mixed debacle. She got it individually by winning the 400H on Thursday, but also revenge specifically against the 4×4 with possibly the most dramatic anchor in WC history.
At almost precisely the same spot where her face had bounced off the track 8 days earlier, she swept past Jamaica’s Stacey Ann Williams to lead the Dutch to a 3:20.72 world lead and No. 9 all-time among nations. Jamaica placed 2nd in 3:20.88 with Great Britain 3rd in 3:21.04.
Once the result flashed on the scoreboard, Bol collapsed to the track in joy, joined by her teammates and then by the Netherlands men’s 4×4, which had finished 6th about 10 minutes earlier.
Leg 1: Candice McLeod, with a 50.75 lap, made Jamaica the first obvious leader as she made up the stagger on the Netherlands coming off the curve into the homestraight. She handed off just a shade sooner than Great Britain (Laviai Nielsen 50.94) and substantially ahead of Belgium and Netherlands.
Leg 2: Coming off the break, Jamaica’s Janieve Russell held about a 4-meter lead over Britain’s Amber Anning. A hard surge by Aiyanna Stiverne pushed Canada briefly into 3rd, another 2m behind, with the Netherlands’ Lieke Klaver a meter further back. However, Klaver quickly brought the Dutch back into the medal hunt, swinging around Canada on the curve. Russell (49.99) faded hard down the straight and Anning (49.82) and Klaver (48.71, the fastest split of the meet) both pounced, drawing almost level at the exchange.
Leg 3: Being on the inside favored Jamaica’s Nickisha Price coming out of the handoff, restoring a narrow lead over Ama Pipi for Britain and Netherlands on the backstretch. Canada faded from contention. The order stayed the same for the rest of the leg as Price split 50.16 to Pipi’s 50.55, with Netherlands’ Cathelijn Peeters (51.37) losing ground. As the anchor lap began, the gap between Jamaica in 1st and Netherlands in 3rd was about 8m. Would that be enough to hold off Bol, the World Indoor Recordholder and No. 2 all-time in the lap with hurdles?
Anchor Leg: It would not. Bol, no stranger to the pressures of the world stage, gave a clinic on how to play catch-up on a 4×4 anchor. If she made up any ground on Jamaica’s Stacey-Ann Williams and Britain’s Nicole Yeargin in the first 200, it was imperceptible. Trusting her noted homestretch stamina, she waited for the pair in front of her to fade, and they did. She caught Yeargin approximately 20m out. She caught Williams with about 5 remaining. Bol’s momentum as she closed out her 48.79 circuit was such that she didn’t even need to lean. Anchoring like a bullet also was 400 runner-up Natalia Kaczmarek though her 48.85 only pulled Poland past France for 6th.
“The first three legs went so well, I felt like I had to finish as strongly as I could,” said Bol. “I wanted to stay patient, but in the last meters I said ‘No, we have to take it.’ It was one of my most important runs ever, but it is the first time we became world champions so it applies for all of us. Every 10th and 100th of a second was needed.”
WOMEN’S 4×4 RESULTS
FINAL (August 27)
1. Netherlands 3:20.72 NR (WL) (#9 nation)
(Eveline Saalberg 51.85, Lieke Klaver 48.71, Cathelijn Peeters 51.37, Femke Bol 48.79);
2. Jamaica 3:20.88
(Candice McLeod 50.75, Janieve Russell 49.99, Nickisha Pryce 50.16, Stacey-Ann Williams 49.98);
3. Great Britain 3:21.04
(Laviai Nielsen 50.94, Amber Anning 49.82, Ama Pipi 50.55, Nicole Yeargin 49.73);
4. Canada 3:22.42
(Zoe Sherar 51.40, Aiyanna Stiverne 50.36, Kyra Constantine 50.59, Grace Konrad) 50.07);
5. Belgium 3:22.84
(Helena Ponette 51.87, Imke Vervaet 50.51, Hanne Claes 50.30, Camille Laus 50.16);
6. Poland 3:24.93
(Alicja Wrona-Kutrzepa 53.09, Marika Popowicz-Drapala 51.36, Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz-Zawadzka 51.63, Natalia Kaczmarek 48.85);
7. Italy 3:24.98
(Alice Mangione 52.29, Anna Polinari 50.88, Alessandra Bonora 51.12, Giancarla Dimich Trevisan (50.70);
8. Ireland 3:27.08
(Sophie Becker 52.56, Roisin Harrison 52.15, Kelly McGrory (52.77, Sharlene Mawdsley 49.60);
9. France 3:28.35
(Amandine Brossier 52.34, Louise Maraval 51.96, Marjorie Veyssiere 52.50, Camille Seri, 51.55).
(best-ever mark-for-place: 9)
Times & Places At Handoffs
Leg 1: 1. Jamaica 50.75; 2. Great Britain 50.94; 3. Canada 51.40; 4. Netherlands 51.85; 5. Belgium 51.87; 6. Italy 52.29; 7. France 52.34; 8. Ireland 52.56; 9. Poland 53.09
Leg 2: 1. Netherlands 1:40.56; 2. Jamaica 1:40.74; 3. Great Britain 1:40.76; 4. Canada 1:41.76; 5. Belgium 1:42.38; 6. Italy 1:43.17; 7. France 1:44.30; 8. Poland 1:44.45; 9. Ireland 1:44.71
Leg 3: 1. Jamaica 2:30.90; 2. Great Britain 2:31.31; 3. Netherlands 2:31.93; 4. Canada 2:32.35; 5. Belgium 2:32.68; 6. Italy 2:34.29; 7. Poland 2:36.08; 8. France 2:36.80; 9. Ireland 2:37.48
HEATS (August 26)
I–1. Jamaica 3:22.74 (out WL) (Charokee Young 51.41, Pryce 50.47, Shiann Salmon 50.69, Williams 50.17);
2. Canada 3:23.29 (Sherar 51.50, Stiverne 50.87, Constantine 50.56, Konrad 50.36);
3. Netherlands 3:23.75 (Saalberg 52.13, Peeters 51.08, Lisanne de Witte 51.29, Bol 49.25);
4. Poland 3:24.05 (Wrona-Kutrzepa 53.09, Popowicz-Drapala 51.36, Wyciszkiewicz-Zawadzka 51.66, Kaczmarek 48.94); 5. France 3:27.50 (Brossier, Maraval, Sounkamba Sylla, Seri);
6. Germany 3:27.74 (Luna Thiel, Alica Schmidt, Mona Mayer, Carolina Krafzik); 7. Spain 3:31.91 (Eva Santidrian, Herminia Parra, Laura Bueno, Barbara Camblor);… dq—Nigeria.
II–1. Great Britain 3:23.33 (Nielsen, Anning 49.77, Yeargin, Yemi Mary John);
2. Belgium 3:23.63 (Naomi Van Den Broeck, Vervaet, Claes, Ponette);
3. Italy 3:23.86 NR (Mangione, Ayomide Folorunso, Bonora, Trevisan 50.17);
4. Ireland 3:26.18 (Becker, Harrison, McGrory, Mawdsley 49.74);
5. Hungary 3:27.79 NR (Evelin Nádházy, Bianka Bartha-Kéri, Fanni Rapai, Janka Molnár 50.38); 6. Switzerland 3:29.07 (Giulia Senn, Julia Niederberger, Rachel Pellaud, Catia Gubelmann); 7. Cuba 3:29.70 (Zurian Hechavarría, Lisneidy Veitía, Rose M. Almanza, Roxana Gómez 50.41); 8. Botswana 3:31.85 (Lydia Jele, Oratile Nowe, Moroko Galefele, Obakeng Kamberuka);
… dq[zone]—United States [3:23.35] (Lynna Irby-Jackson 50.74, Rosey Effiong 49.51, Quanera Hayes 51.00, Alexis Holmes 52.10).