World Champs Men’s 4×1 — U.S. Finishes, Doesn’t Win

Team USA got the baton around the track, but Andre De Grasse-anchored Canada was smoothest of all. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

AS USUAL OF LATE in the men’s 4×1, the big question going in was, “How will the U.S. gel, as relay practice time is short compared to many other countries?”

Another regular subject is who the Americans will run, and this year that took on special attention after the U.S. swept the medals in the 100 and 200 with 6 different performers.

One question that perhaps should been asked more often was, “What about the Canadians?” Their picture was unclear with star anchor Andre De Grasse recovering from a case of COVID. After failing to make the 100 final he had withdrawn from the 200.

The U.S. tightened the focus clearly on themselves after cruising to a heat I victory in a year-leading 37.87 using Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy-Williams. The notable omission for consideration was century champ Fred Kerley, who suffered an injury in the 200 semis and took himself out of the discussion.

In the final, the U.S., Canada and France were in lanes 3-4-5, and all three returned the same foursomes from the heats. Canada had a beautiful race, while the U.S. and France struggled.

Coleman got out well, but the Americans’ first passing problem appeared on the first exchange. Coleman and Lyles had a messy connection, while Canada had no such issue between Aaron Brown and Jerome Blake and exited the zone with a slight lead.

Lyles zoomed the backstretch but so did Blake, with Canada appearing to hold a slim lead. Both squads had solid second exchanges as Hall gave the U.S. a noticeable advantage over the Canadians’ Brendon Rodney.

Then came more trouble for the U.S. as Hall and Bracy-Williams missed twice, finally connecting after Bracy-Williams turned around to grab the baton and Hall falling down near the end of the zone. Meanwhile Rodney’s pass to Andre De Grasse was just fine and Canada had the lead.

De Grasse widened the gap to cross the line first in a Canadian Record 37.48 to become the No. 5 nation ever. The U.S. garnered silver in 37.55 as the Americans finished behind Canada in a major men’s 4×1 final for the first time since the ’96 Olympics, when the countries also finished 1-2, again on U.S. soil. France missed the final handoff as Great Britain claimed the bronze in 37.83.

Said the disappointed Bracy-Williams, “We have a few things to clean up, the exchanges. Mine was not very good and that may have cost us the race.”

Continuity helped the winners. “We had the same team as the Olympics last year,” said Blake, referring to Canada’s 4th in Tokyo.

De Grasse said, “We spoke about last year and what a great shot we had at being on top of the podium. We were able to practice the relay more. We had that team chemistry. It’s special to win here. There are many Canadians cheering us on. It’s not on home soil, but it felt like it.”


FINAL (July 23)

(temperature 77F/25C; humidity 43%)

1. Canada 37.48 NR (WL) (5 W)

(Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney, Andre De Grasse);

2. United States 37.55 (AL) (10 A)

(Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall, Marvin Bracy-Williams);

3. Great Britain 37.83

(Jona Efoloko, Zharnel Hughes, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Reece Prescod);

4. Jamaica 38.06

(Ackeem Blake, Yohan Blake, Oblique Seville, Jelani Walker);

5. Ghana 38.07 NR

(Sean Safo-Antwi, Benjamin Azamati, Joseph Manu, Joseph Amoah);

6. South Africa 38.10

(Emile Erasmus, Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai, Akani Simbine);

7. Brazil 38.25

(Rodrigo do Nascimento, Felipe Bardi, Derick Silva, Erik Felipe Cardoso);

… dq—France

(Meba Mickael Zeze,Pablo Mateo, Ryan Zeze, Jimmy Vicaut).

(lanes: 1. Brazil; 2. Jamaica; 3. United States; 4. Canada; 5. France; 6. Great Britain; 7. South Africa; 8. Ghana)

(reaction times: 0.112 United States, 0.120 France, 0.122 Brazil, 0.127 Ghana, 0.141 Jamaica, 0.147 Canada, 0.170 Great Britain, 0.179 South Africa)

HEATS (July 22)

I–1. United States 37.87 (WL, AL);

2. Great Britain 38.49 (Adam Gemili, Hughes, Mitchell-Blake, Prescod); 3. Ghana 38.58; 4. Germany 38.83 (Kevin Kranz, Joshua Hartmann, Owen Ansah, Lucas Ansah-Peprah); 5. China 38.83 (Xingqiang Tang, Zhenye Xie, Bingtian Su, Guanfeng Chen); 6. Netherlands 39.07 (Hensley Paulina, Taymir Burnet, Joris van Gool, Raphael Bouju);… dq[zone]—Japan, Nigeria.

II–1. France 38.09; 2. Canada 38.10; 3. South Africa 38.31 (Henricho Bruintjies, Erasmus, Munyai, Simbine); 4. Jamaica 38.33 (A. Blake, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Conroy Jones, Jelani Walker); 5. Brazil 38.41; 6. Spain 38.70 (Bernat Canet, Pol Retamal, Jesus Gomez, Sergio López); 7. Italy 38.74 (Lorenzo Patta, Filippo Tortu, Eseosa Desalu, Chituru Ali);… dnf—Denmark.