The concluding event of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 displayed all the unpredictable entertainment we’ve come to expect of the mixed 4x400m, but in the end the result was anything but a surprise, Team Americas once again reigning supreme and taking a clear win in 3:13.01.
With teams free to select whatever running order they felt appropriate and change it right up until race time, three out of the four opted to use their two men on the first and second legs, with Africa being the one exception.
Their lead-off runner Christine Botlogetswe was left well behind by the three men racing against her: Christian Taylor of Team Americas, Steven Solomon of Asia-Pacific and Matthew Hudson-Smith of Europe.
Europe led through the opening lap and a strong leg by Kevin Borlee ensured they held command at the halfway point, the Belgian handing over to Lisanne De Witte. But no sooner had the Dutch sprinter got her hand on the baton than she lost it, the baton hitting her leg and falling to the track, and with it Europe’s chances.
Though De Witte retrieved the baton and ran on, Europe was later disqualified via rule 170.6c, which states that a dropped baton must be recovered by the athlete who dropped it (which De Witte did) and that the athlete must return to the drop point before re-joining the race (which she didn’t).
Team Americas seized the initiative on the third leg and sprinted clear with a strong leg from Stephenie-Ann McPherson, who handed over to Shaunae Miller-Uibo for what amounted to a lap of honour.
The Bahamian couldn’t take in the experience too much, however, as Africa had a male athlete charging around the track on their final leg, Baboloki Thebe powering from fourth to second and hitting the line in 3:16.19 to take the runner-up spot for Africa, three seconds behind Team Americas.
Asia-Pacific claimed third in 3:18.55.
For Christian Taylor, it was an exhilirating end to an exhausting day, given he had earlier won the men's triple jump. "It's very difficult to combine two events in one day but I was really excited to compete in this mixed relay," he said. "Next year i'm probably going to focus on the triple jump and try to break the world record."
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF