Jamaica sweeps sprint relays

Jamaica left no question as to which country rules the sprinting world, as it won both the men's and women's 4x100-metre relays at the world track and field championships in Berlin on Saturday.
Jamaica's Asafa Powell ran the anchor leg during his relay team's victory in the 4x100-metre race on Saturday. ((Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press))

Jamaica left no question as to which country rules the sprinting world, as it won both the men's and women's 4x100-metre relays at the world track and field championships in Berlin on Saturday.

The Jamaican men's team, made up of two of the world's fastest humans in Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, along with Steve Mullings and Michael Frater, won gold in a time of 37.31 seconds.

However, they failed to set a world record.

"It is a little bit my fault," an apologetic Bolt said, complaining he was just too tired after nine races in eight days.

"I didn't run the best third leg. I was happy to get around the track and give the baton to Asafa," he said. "I am dying right now."

Since the Beijing Olympics, Bolt had won five major gold medals with a world record each time. The world record streak ended in the 400 relay after he set two individual marks in Berlin.

"The main thing that counted was getting the gold," he said.

Compounding Bolt's fatigue was Asafa Powell's groin injury, which made the anchor runner uncertain until one hour before the start.

The women's team, made up of Simone Facey, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Aleen Bailey and Kerron Stewart, won gold earlier in the day.

Both teams were helped by the absence of their chief rival, the Americans. The U.S. men's and women's teams were supposed to challenge the Jamaicans for gold in both events, but they crashed out of their respective competitions because of problems with exchanging the baton.

Problem with baton exchange

Bolt and Powell had some problems of their own with the last exchange in the final, as Powell looked like he didn't expect Bolt to run up to him as fast as he did. It forced the two to slow down, but their exchange was clean nevertheless.

Jamaican domination

2009 Worlds

EventJamaican Results
Men's 100m 

Gold: Usain Bolt (World Record)

Bronze: Asafa Powell

Women's 100m

Gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser

Silver: Kerron Stewart

Men's 200m Gold: Usain Bolt (WR)
Women's 200m Silver: Veronica Campbell-Brown 
Men's 4 x 100m relay Gold
Women's 4 x 100m relayGold 

2008 Olympics

Event Jamaican Results
Men's 100m 

Gold: Usain Bolt (WR)

Women's 100m

Gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser

Silver: Sherone Simpson (Tie)

Silver: Kerron Stewart (Tie)

Men's 200m 

Gold: Usain Bolt (WR) 

Women's 200m 

Gold: Veronica Campbell-Brown 

Bronze: Kerron Stewart

Men's 4 x 100m relay 

Gold (WR)

Women's 4 x 100m relay


The small gaffe didn't affect the result, as the Jamaicans had the race well in hand by then, but it might have cost them a new world record. They were a bit slower than the mark they set in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics (37.10). Jamaica did set a new world championships record with its run.

Bolt won his third gold medal at the worlds, accomplishing the same feat he achieved during the 2008 Olympics. The 23-year-old won the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints earlier in the meet and shattered both of his own world records in the process.

It was Powell's second medal of the meet, as he won bronze in the 100.

Trinidad and Tobago finished second with a time of 37.62, while Great Britain won bronze by finishing in 38.02.

Canada fifth

The Canadian men's team finished a strong fifth in 38.39, improving on their sixth-place showing in Beijing.

It marked the best Canadian finish in the 400-metre relay since 1998 when Brad McCuaig, Glenroy Glibert, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey ran in 38.23.

Japan finished ahead of Canada with a time of 38.30.

The Canadians, comprising Sam Effah of Calgary, Oluseyi Smith of Ottawa, Jared Connaughton of Charlottetown and Barnett of Edmonton, were in Lane 8, running alongside the Jamaicans in Lane 7. 

The race began as expected, with Mullings and Frater slowly pulling away for the Jamaicans in the first two legs. Effah and Smith kept near the leaders, but when Bolt grabbed the baton for the third leg, he left everyone in his wake.

The troublesome final handoff slowed Jamaica down, but with Powell running the anchor, they had the race safely in hand.

Strong anchor leg

Barnett ran a very strong anchor leg for Canada, and his effort moved the team up a couple spots in the final results.

The Jamaican women had clean exchanges the whole way through their final, reaching the finish line in 42.06. The Bahamas won silver, clocking in at 42.29, and Germany finished in 42.87 to win bronze in front of a loud home crowd.

Kerron Stewart, left, helped lead Jamaica to victory in the women's final. ((Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images))
It was a measure of revenge for the Jamaican team, as the squad was the favourite to win gold in Beijing but crashed out of the final.

The Americans fell out of the competition in the preliminary heats. The U.S. was running a solid race until the third baton pass. Then Alexandria Anderson and Muna Lee had trouble with the exchange, and Lee had to move awkwardly to grab the baton.

"Just when she pushed off going around that turn something happened," Anderson said.

Lee hobbled and fell to the ground clutching her left hamstring, and did not finish the race. She was taken off the track on a stretcher.

With files from The Associated Press