Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the womens 4x100m Relay at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)
Jamaica’s women’s 4x100m Relay quartet flew around the Luzhniki Stadium in 41.29, the second-fastest time in history, which was also a national and championship record.
Only the USA team that won at the London 2012 Olympic Games have got the baton round faster, when they set the World record of 40.82 last summer.
With a completely different quartet from the London final, and despite looking good in their heat, a disastrous second change between Alexandria Anderson and English Gardner meant the USA dropped out of contention for the gold medal.
However, it is doubtful that at their best the four women presented by the USA could have have kept pace with the Jamaicans.
Carrie Russell ran a strong first leg, duelling for the lead with the USA opener Jeneba Tarmoh, but the damage was really done down the back straight by Kerron Stewart, who handed over slightly in front to Schillonie Calvert.
Calvert performed well around the bend and that just left a refreshed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who didn’t run in their heat, to blitz down the blue Mondo track and take the title they last won in Berlin 2009, having also won it in Tokyo 18 years prior to their victory on German soil.
Fast legs are obviously half the reason behind good relay times but also an understanding between the team members and slick baton changing is crucial. With various members having arrived between four and eight days before the start of the championships, the Jamaican women made good use of their free time to put in plenty of practice before the start of events in Moscow.
France originally came through for a slightly unexpected, and very distant, second place and their teenage talent Stella Akakpo, the 2013 European junior 100m champion, showed off her prodigious skills by taking her team from fourth to second on the last leg before they were disqualified following a British protest for exchanging the baton outside the change over zone.
Octavious Freeman also ran a superb last leg for the USA and got them a medal after their earlier crisis, bringing the team through from fifth place at the last handover to being the third team across the line in 42.75, with Freeman overtaking Great Britain’s Hayley Jones in the final 20 metres.
Later in the evening, the USA were awarded the silver medals with Great Britain being promoted to third place, the latter only finding out that they had got the bronze medals after they had actually left the stadium.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF