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Monday, 02 April 2018 14:40

Champs record by W4x400 leads Team USATF to 18-medal haul

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Arena Birmingham, a moment of quiet Arena Birmingham, a moment of quiet Getty Images/British Athletics
The eighteen medal haul of Team USATF was pretty impressive. Truth is, we probably missed a couple of medals with the plethora of DQs, but I’m not going to get grumpy. Some fine athletes and some fine performances. Thanks to Ashley Mitchel and Josh Gurnick of USATF,, who toiled each session to provide us the support we needed to cover the four days of global track & field.
 
 
BIRMINGHAM, England - A six-medal afternoon Sunday at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham gave USATF one of its most successful performances at World Indoors.
 
A championship-record performance by the women's 4x400m relay team of Quanera Hayes, Georganne Moline, Shakima Wimbley and Courtney Okolo was complemented by silvers from Ajee Wilson, Jarret Eaton, Sam Kendricks and the men's 4x400m relay team.
 
By the end of the day, Team USATF had amassed 18 total medals for the 2018 World Indoor Championships, equaling its third-best performance ever at World Indoors. Along the way, American athletes racked up four championship records, an American record, and 10 performances that were the best ever by Americans at World Indoors.
 
In team competition, Team USATF's 18 medals led Great Britain's seven, with six U.S. gold medals to Ethiopia's four. Team USATF tallied 208 points on the placing table, followed by Great Britain with 67 and Ethiopia with 57.
 
Women's 4x400m relay takes gold, CR
Quanera Hayes (Hope Mills, NC) ran a strong opening split of 51.56 in the women's 4x400 relay, handing off to Georganne Moline (Tucson, AZ) in first place over Jamaica and Poland - and ahead of world record pace. Coming around the final bend, Moline stumbled a bit around the corner and lost some momentum but still handed off to 400m silver medalist Shakima Wimbley (Fort Lauderdale, FL) with the U.S. on the rail and with a slight lead, splitting 50.87. Wimbley kept Jamaica at bay with a 51.27 leg, and 400m gold medalist Courtney Okolo (Carrollton, TX) at last shook the Jamaicans with a 50.15 anchor, bringing the U.S. home in a championship-record time of 3:23.85.
 
 
Kendricks-Lavillenie duel in MPV
With the 2016 World Indoor pole vault silver already on his resume, Sam Kendricks (Oxford, MS) was perfect over 5.45m/17-10.5, 5.60/18-4.5, and 5.70/18-8.25. After one miss at 5.80m/19-0.25, he passed his remaining attempts and cleared 5.85m/19-2.25 on his first try to move into second place behind world record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France.
 
With Kendricks, Lavillenie and Piotr Lisek of Poland the only three athletes remaining at 5.90m/19-4.25, Lavillenie was the only man to clear, taking the gold, with Kendricks claiming another silver. Scott Houston (Oak Ridge, NC) had a best clearance of 5.60/18-4.5 and finished 13th. As much as each other, the jumpers battled a long competition, which began at 3 p.m. and concluded for Kendricks at 6:12 p.m.
 
Solid silver for men's 4x400
It took a world record by Poland to relegate Team USATF to silver in the men's 4x400m relay. Fred Kerley (Taylor, TX) opened up with a 44.84 split - the fastest indoor 4x400 leadoff in history - giving the U.S. a comfortable lead over Poland. 400m silver medalist Michael Cherry (Chesapeake, VA) used a 45.39 leg to put the U.S. five meters up after two legs; and Aldrich Bailey (Arlington, TX) ran 46.10 (2:16.33) to hand off to Vernon Norwood (Morgan City, LA) three strides up on the Poles. Norwood went out aggressively and in spite of a 45.64 split was unable to hold off a charging Poland down the stretch. Poland crossed the line in 3:01.77 to break Team USATF's world record set at the 2014 World Indoor Championships, with the Americans coming second in 3:01.97.
 
Wilson takes second silver in 800
Ajee Wilson (Neptune, NJ) ran a brave race in the women's 800 in an attempt to claim her first gold medal. The 2016 World Indoor silver medalist went to the lead from the gun and led the pack through a manageable but honest split of 59 seconds for 400 meters, fending off a challenge from defending champion Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi at 300 meters.
Wilson began to open the throttle in the third 200, stringing out the field. At the bell, Niyonsaba ran so close to Wilson their shoulders appeared tethered to each other. Niyonsaba at last moved to the lead with 100m to go, taking the title in 1:58.31 with Wilson second in 1:58.99, the fastest time ever by an American at World Indoors and a personal best. Teammate Raevyn Rogers (Houston, TX), finished fifth in 2:01.44.
 
Reese wins 10th medal in LJ
The defending long jump champion, Brittney Reese (Gulfport, MS) opened the competition at 6.76m/22-2.25; improved to 6.77/22-2.5 in round 3; and took the lead in round 4 with 6.89/22-7.25. But just a few jumps later, 2016 silver medalist Ivana Spanovic of Serbia assumed first place with a world-leading 6.96/22-10 to take the gold and reverse the order of finish from 2016. The silver gave Reese, perhaps the greatest jumper in history, her 10th medal in global championships. Quanesha Burks (Hartselle, GA) opened the competition with a personal-best 6.81m/22-4.25, a mark that held up for fourth place.
 
Eaton wins first global medal in 60H
Jarrett Eaton (Abington, PA) was fourth at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. He seized the opportunity to rectify that status Sunday night, winning his first medal at a World Championship.
 
A false start left lane lane 6 empty, which mean both Eaton in lane 7 and Aries Merritt (Marietta, GA) in lane 1 were running with an empty lane beside them. At the gun, both Americans got out well, with Eaton in the lead. Andrew Pozzi of Great Britain began to close mid-race, and both he and Eaton lunged for the line, keeping the crowd waiting for the photo finish to be read. After a brief wait, Pozzi was the gold medalist in 7.46, with Eaton second in 7.47, Aurel Manga of France third in 7.54 and Merritt a very close fourth in 7.56.
 
Blankenship's fifth leads distance ranks.
Ben Blankenship (Stillwater, MN) found himself leading the men's 1,500 final in its early stages, but leading was more a matter of challenging to see who could run the slowest. With splits of 1:15 for 400 and 2:23 for 800, the race was to be more of a 600m sprint over the final laps.
 
At the bell, Blankenship and Craig Engels (Pfafftown, NC) were in the sixth and seventh positions as jostling and sprinting went hand in hand. Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia emerged the victor in 3:58.19—by far the slowest time in meet history—with Blankenship fifth in 3:58.89 and Engels seventh in 3:58.92.
 
A tactical race in the men's 3,000 played to the advantage of Shadrack Kipchirchir (Colorado Springs, CO) ... until it didn't. The pace was slow from the gun, with 800m passed in 2:29. Sitting fifth and on the rail at the bell lap, Kipchirchir looked to make his move, but coming off the first turn, he stepped on into the infield for a few strides and was off balance. He was unable to recover and finished eighth in 8:18.17 and was later disqualified for a lane infringement.
 
Team USATF Medal Table
Total Medals: 18
 
Gold (6)
Women's 4x400m relay, 3:23.85, CR, 3/4
Christian Coleman, 60m, 6.37 CR, 3/3
Kendra Harrison, 60H, 7.70 CR, =AR, PR 3/3
Sandi Morris, PV, 4.95m/16-2.75 CR, PR 3/3 
Will Claye, TJ, 17.43m/57-2.25, 3/3
Courtney Okolo, 400m, 50.55, PR 3/3
 
Silver (10)
Sam Kendricks, PV, 5.85m/19-2.25, 3/4
Men's 4x400m relay, 3:01.97, 3/4
Jarret Eaton, 60H, 7.47, 3/4
Brittney Reese, LJ, 6.89m/22-7.25, 3/4
Ajee Wilson, 800m, 1:58.99 PR, 3/4
Christina Manning, 60H, 7.79, 3/3
Michael Cherry, 400m, 45.84, 3/3
Shakima Wimbley, 400m, 51.47, 3/3
Drew Windle, 800m, 1:47.99, 3/3
Vashti Cunningham, HJ, 1.93m/6-4, 3/1
 
Bronze (2)
Ronnie Baker, 60m, 6.44, 3/3
Marquis Dendy, LJ, 8.42m/27-7.5 PR, 3/2
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