Canadian quartet of Brown, Blake, Rodney, De Grasse advances to 4x100m relay final
Team finishes with season-best time of 38.10, will race in final on Saturday night
The Canadian quartet of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse have punched their ticket into the men's 4x100-metre relay final set for Saturday night at the World Athletics Championships.
Canada finished second in their heat behind France in a season-best time of 38.10.
USA's foursome of Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy were the fastest qualifiers on the night with a world-leading time of 37.87.
De Grasse, who withdrew from the 200m event earlier this week at worlds, had a brilliant last leg to guide Canada to the season-best performance.
"I'm feeling good. I like our chances tomorrow," De Grasse told CBC Sports.
"Hopefully tomorrow we can get on the podium and get that gold medal. We've won silver together as a squad. It would be great to come away with a gold medal."
WATCH | Canada's 4x100 team books ticket to Saturday's final:
The 27-year-old from Markham, Ont., has been recovering from his second bout with COVID-19. Just weeks earlier he was suffering from a number of symptoms, including shortness of breath.
"I'm coming back slowly. Definitely the rest this week has helped a lot," he said after the race.
This same four won bronze at last year's summer Olympics and then were later upgraded to silver after a British doping violation. Now they're eyeing gold on American soil.
"We really feel like we should go for gold. We felt like we had a good chance at getting gold in Tokyo," Brown said.
"We're one spot away from gold and why not go for it? I feel like we have a good shot at it, as good as anybody else."
“I’m feeling good. I like our chances tomorrow” says Andre De Grasse. <br><br>The Canadians with a season-best time here tonight in the relay. <br><br>A showdown on a Saturday night with the Americans. And other teams to be sure. Oh baby. <a href="https://t.co/T4w2YC9cGM">pic.twitter.com/T4w2YC9cGM</a>—@Devin_Heroux
Brown, 30, was running in his seventh race at worlds after making it all the way to the 100m and 200m finals.
"We're looking strong for the final."
"Job isn't finished. I'm not overly ecstatic right now. I want us to be on top of the podium tomorrow," Brown said.
Blake, who's the newest member of the team, says he felt comfortable inside Hayward Field.
"It was smooth. It was a good run. The main objective was to have a clean run and make the final," he said.
Rodney, who was running the corner for the Canadians in the third spot, says there's a lot of trust between the members of the team.
"Chemistry does make a difference. And we have it," Rodney said.
"I think the chemistry of us, you know, being around each other for so long, that helps. It helps in so many different ways. Like Andre and I were roommates."
'The USA doesn't practice as much as we do'
It sets up a Saturday night showdown, with rivals USA looking to win gold at home — their sprinters swept the 100m and 200m races.
But both Brown and Rodney aren't sold on the Americans being the favourites going into the final.
"The USA doesn't practice as much as we do. And every year that team changes. We've been a team since 2015. Now we have the new addition of Jerome. But Andre and I have been running together since 2015. There's no reason you don't win," Rodney said.
WATCH | Canada's chemistry a factor ahead of 4x100 relay:
Brown agrees with his countryman.
"I hate to use it all the time, but the Americans, when they get together, they're such fierce competitors in the individual events that they're sometimes not friends and they don't want to practice really," Brown said.
"There are definitely a lot of egos in sprinting around the world, so it's not uncommon to have the huge ego sprinter, but I feel like we buck that trend in Canada."
In the women's 4x100m relay, Crystal Emmanuel, Khamica Bingham, Jacqueline Madogo and Leya Buchanan were on the track competing for Canada.
The Canadians earned the final spot in the competition at the world championships — Canada, ranked 17th, was one spot behind Nigeria with only the top 16 teams making the world championships. But Nigeria was disqualified after team member sprinter Blessing Okagbare was banned for doping infractions.
On Friday night at Hayward Field, Canada finished fifth in their heat in a time of 43.09 — it was just shy of their season-best time of 43.03. The team failed to advance to the final, however, finishing 10th overall.
McLaughlin obliterates world record in 400m hurdles
Sydney McLaughlin shattered her world record by a whopping 0.73 seconds Friday, blazing through the 400-meter hurdles in 50.68 seconds for her first career gold medal at world championships.
The 22-year-old obliterated the field in setting the first world record of these championships. More impressively, it marked the fourth straight major race in which she's bettered the mark.
"It's unreal," McLaughlin said in the post-race interview on the track.
Femke Bol of the Netherlands finished second in 52.27 — that's a 1.59-second difference — and defending world champion Dalilah Muhammad finished third in 53.13 — a time that would've won the race going away a mere seven years ago.
WATCH l McLaughlin of the U.S. wins women's 400m with world record time of 50.68:
On a clear, perfect, 72-degree night at Hayward Stadium, McLaughin left Bol and Muhammad behind by the 150-meter mark. When the American reached the final curve, it was clear this would strictly be a race against the clock.
When she finished, she bent to the ground, looked at the scoreboard and said, "That's great, that's great." She clutched her knees and smiled. A minute later, the mascot, Legend the Bigfoot, photo bombed her while holding a sign saying: "World records are my favourite food."
Her's, too. After the medals ceremony, World Athletics President Seb Coe presented McLaughlin with a check for $100,000 — the bonus for anyone who sets a world mark at this meet.
"Honestly, I just wanted to run and go for it," she said. "That last 100 really hurt."
The 400-hurdles record had sat on the books for 16 years when Muhammad lowered it to 52.20 at U.S. championships in Iowa in 2019.
Since then, either she or Muhammad have broken it at every major meet: Muhammad at 2019 worlds (52.16), then McLaughlin at last year's Olympic trials (51.90), the Olympics (51.46), nationals this year (51.41), and, now, this.
Felix postpones retirement for women's 4x400 relay
Turns out, Allyson Felix hasn't run her last race. The most decorated sprinter in U.S. history will return to the world championships to race in the preliminaries of the women's 4x400 relay Saturday.
She said team officials coaxed her out of her brief retirement after she helped the mixed relay team win a bronze medal last Friday in what she had said was her last major race.
"The coaches asked if I was available and there was no way I'd turn the team down," the 36-year-old said through an email with The Associated Press.
The prelims of the 4x400 relay are Saturday and the final will be held Sunday to close out the world championships.
A week ago, Felix ran the second leg on the 4x400 mixed relay squad in what she said would be her last event. Since then, she's had a few speaking engagements and attended The ESPYS in Los Angeles. She's back for another appearance at Hayward Field.
"When I got the call, I locked in and refocused," Felix said.
The third-place finish in the mixed relay gave Felix her 19th medal at world championships, extending a record she already held. Add in her 11 Olympic medals and it brings the total to an even 30.
At the Tokyo Olympics last year, she was on the gold-medal women's 4x400 relay as part of a "dream team" with Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu. The foursome extended the American's gold-medal winning streak in the event to seven at the Olympics.
Garcia Leon completes worlds race walk double
Peru's Kimberly Garcia Leon bagged her second gold medal at the World Athletics Championships after winning the women's 35km race walk on Friday, adding to last week's 20km race walk triumph.
Garcia Leon won the inaugural women's 35km race walk at the worlds, held on a closed loop at Autzen Stadium north of Eugene city center, after crossing the line in a time of 2:39:16, which was over four minutes faster than her previous personal best.
She finished 47 seconds ahead of silver medallist Katarzyna Zdzieblo of Poland, while China's Qieyang Shijie took the bronze as all three athletes mirrored their results from the 20km race walk.
"I have always dreamed of making history in a sport I am so passionate about, that I have been practicing since I was five," said Garcia Leon.
"After my 20km win, I tried to stay well hydrated, to eat well to get ready for the 35km. I trained to finish strong in the last 5km."
Garcia Leon and Zdzieblo battled shoulder-to-shoulder and shared the lead until the halfway mark before the Peruvia pulled away at 19km, gaining a seven-second lead.
Zdzieblo tried to stage a comeback in the final 10km, but the Peruvian coped well with the pressure, securing the second gold medal for her country at this year's championships.
"My plan was to set a steady pace until 20km and gradually up the pace from there. That's what I did today," the 28-year-old race winner added
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With files from Reuters and The Associated Press