Americans sweep 400-metre relays

The American men's and women's 4x400-metre relay teams dominated their finals at the world track and field championships in Berlin on Sunday, both winning convincingly to cap off competition at the event.

The American men's and women's 4x400-metre relay teams dominated their finals at the world track and field championships in Berlin on Sunday, both winning convincingly to cap off competition at the event.

Neither relay race was in doubt after the halfway point as the U.S. teams opened up big leads on their rivals.

The men's team, made up of LaShawn Merritt, Jeremy Wariner — who finished 1-2 in the 400-metre final earlier in the meet — Angelo Taylor and Kerron Clement, finished in two minutes 57.86 seconds, almost three seconds better than second-place Great Britain. Australia took the bronze.

"Championships are all about getting the medal," said Merritt, who also accomplished the 400/relay double-gold feat at the 2008 Olympics.

The race was close until Wariner took the baton on the second leg.

Wariner, 25, opened up a huge lead for the Americans and they were on cruise control the rest of the way, leaving the Aussies and Brits to battle it out for second best. It was a close fight for silver, but Britain finished in 3:00.53 to edge Australia (3:00.90).

The race was almost a carbon copy of the women's 4x400 held earlier in the day.

The U.S. women's team, made up of Debbie Dunn, 200-metre winner Allyson Felix, Lashinda Demus and individual 400 winner Sanya Richards, opened a big lead right from the get-go and finished in three minutes 17.83 seconds.

"It was incredible, my teammates were phenomenal," Richards said.

The time was a little over three seconds better than Jamaica, which scored a silver thanks to a fantastic final leg by Shericka Williams, the runner-up in the 400.

She reeled in Russia's Antonina Krivoshapka, who had to settle for bronze along with her team after a time of 3:21.64.

"We did an awesome job," Jamaican relay runner Novlene Williams-Mills said. "It's nice to bring Jamaica the last medal of the championships."

U.S. dominates 400m events

One-lap wonders

Over the past two years, Americans have ruled the 400-metres.

2009 Worlds

Event American Result 
Men's 400m

Gold: LaShawn Merritt 

Silver: Jeremy Wariner

Women's 400m Gold: Sanya Richards 
Men's 4x400m relayGold 
Women's 4x400m relayGold 

2008 Olympics

Event American Result 
Men's 400m

Gold: LaShawn Merritt

Silver: Jeremy Wariner

Bronze: David Neville

Women's 400mBronze: Sanya Richards 
Men's 4x400m relayGold 
Women's 4x400m relay Gold 

The Jamaicans may dominate the 100 and 200-metre races, but with their performance Sunday the Americans claimed ownership of the 400. The U.S. swept all four events held at that distance and took five medals total from those competitions.

The two victories also gave the U.S. relay team a measure of redemption after disastrous results in the men's and women's 4x100 events.

Both of those teams had trouble with baton exchanges and failed to make the final, paving the way for Jamaica to sweep both of those events.

The wins also solidified the Americans' stature at the top of the medal standings. After nine days of competition in Berlin, the U.S. has the most gold medals (10) and the most medals (22), with six silver and six bronze adding to the tally.

But it was the island nation of Jamaica, with a population of a little less than three million people, that made the most noise at the worlds.

The Jamaicans finished second behind the U.S. in the gold medal tally, with seven, and were tied with Russia for second in total medals won (13), with four silver and two bronze also to their credit.

They also dominated the marquee sprint events, and had far and away the most captivating athlete at the event in Usain Bolt, who shattered the 100 and 200-metre records on the way to an unmatched triple gold medal performance.

Kenya was third in the overall standings, with four gold medals, five silver and two bronze, for a total of 11. Official standings are measured by total gold medals won, with silver and bronze medals acting as the respective tiebreakers.

Canada finished the worlds with one medal, thanks to Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Toronto, who won a silver in the women's 100-metre hurdles.

With files from The Associated Press