US closes with sweep in relays
BERLIN - LaShawn Merritt raised the metallic blue baton high in the air as he crossed the finish line. Sanya Richards went with a simple flicking motion.
Both fine ways to celebrate a gold medal.
Bottom line? Both still had the stick in their hands at the finish.
The Americans got the baton around the track in the finals yesterday, leading to a 1,600-meter relay sweep to close out the world championships.
“Did you think anything less?’’ Angelo Taylor said, grinning.
Well, the US relays have had their share of foibles. This weekend at the worlds, the men’s 400 team was disqualified for making an exchange outside the allowable zone, and then the women’s squad didn’t finish after Muna Lee pulled up with a hamstring injury.
That all happened on the heels of the Olympics in Beijing, when the two sprint relay teams dropped the stick.
The Americans, though, had sticky fingers yesterday. That baton wasn’t going anywhere.
“We don’t want to harp on it,’’ Richards said. “I think sometimes if you put too much thought into it, it makes it too much of a challenge. We all know you get that stick and you have 400 meters to do whatever. We don’t put too much emphasis on that handoff.’’
Merritt, Kerron Clement, Allyson Felix and Richards each won a second gold medal at the championships in the relays.
Felix, though, might have had a third. She was scheduled to run in the finals of the 400 relay before Lee went down with an injury.
In the long jump, American Brittney Reese’s title came as a surprise. She beat defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia with a jump of 23 feet 3 1/2 inches, as the Americans topped the medal standings, winning 10 gold and 22 overall. That’s down from two years ago in Osaka, Japan, when the US captured 26. Jamaica and Russia were next as each had 13 overall medals.
And even when Usain Bolt isn’t running, he still picks up honors. Bolt received a huge piece of the Berlin Wall yesterday.
The Jamaican leaves the championships with two more world records as he obliterated his marks in the 100 and 200, shaving .11 seconds off each. He also won another crown in the 400 relay.