August 23, 2009 in Sports

Gold, but no record

Jamaican 400M relay second-fastest in history
Raf Casert Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Jamaica’s, from right, Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, Michael Frater and Steve Mullings celebrate their victory by pretending to pass a baton to each other. Bolt won his third gold medal of the world championships.
(Full-size photo)

BERLIN – Usain Bolt’s third gold medal of the world championships failed to produce a third world record because the Jamaican 400-meter relay team managed to produce only the second-fastest time in history.

“It is a little bit my fault,” an apologetic Bolt said, complaining he was just too tired after nine races in eight days.

“I didn’t run the best third leg. I was happy to get around the track and give the baton to Asafa,” he said. “I am dying right now.”

Compounding Bolt’s fatigue was Asafa Powell’s groin injury, which made the anchor runner uncertain until one hour before the start.

Since the Beijing Olympics, Bolt had won five major gold medals with a world record each time. The world record streak ended in the 400 relay after he set two individual marks in Berlin.

“The main thing that counted was getting the gold,” Bolt said.

The Jamaicans won in 37.31 seconds, a championship record but slower than the world record of 37.10 they set in Beijing last year.

Trinidad and Tobago took silver and Britain got bronze.

The absence of the record left the ever ebullient Bolt initially subdued. Instead of his antics and mimicking, Bolt sat down on the track and stretched. He untied his shoes and hugged Powell.

They planned for a big party in Berlin, though.

“It is top secret where we are going,” Bolt said.

“Anywhere he is going, I am going,” Powell added.

Bolt has plenty of reason to celebrate. The 100 and 200 world-record holder was perfect when it came to his three golds, much like Jesse Owens was 73 years ago when he went 4 for 4 at the same stadium during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

And on Saturday, it was another American who took gold in the long jump.

During a final laden with symbolism, Dwight Phillips jumped 28 feet, 1/4 inch on his second attempt to win. His main rival, Olympic champion Irving Saladino of Panama, was eliminated with scratches in his first three tries.

The Olympic Stadium did see a world record – just not the one it expected.

Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland set a world record of 255 feet, 9 inches to win the hammer throw and earn a $160,000 check for winning a title with a record. Betty Heidler of Germany won silver.

Despite the long jump victory Saturday, it still was a bittersweet day for the American team. The United States failed to make the women’s 400 relay final, with Muna Lee falling to the ground injured after a handoff in the heats.

Instead, Jamaica ran to victory in 42.06 seconds, beating the Bahamas for silver and Germany for bronze.

Earlier Saturday, Abel Kirui and Emmanuel Mutai made sure Kenya is keeping an edge over Ethiopia, finishing 1-2 in the men’s marathon.

The intense African rivalry for medal supremacy swung Kenya’s way for good under the Brandenburg Gate when the two Kenyans ran Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia into submission in the fastest marathon in world championship history.

Kenya rubbed it in at the Olympic Stadium later Saturday when Vivian Cheruiyot led Kenya to a 1-2 finish in the women’s 5,000 and reduced Ethiopian favorite Meseret Defar to bronze. The double 1-2 finish gave Kenya four golds and 10 overall, and left Ethiopia with one gold and six overall.

Perhaps the most amazing gold of the evening came in the pole vault, where Steve Hooker knew a right leg injury gave him only a few attempts at gold.

It was a “ridiculous plan,” but it worked.

The Australian took only two jumps in a bold gamble but cleared 19 feet, 4 1/4 inches to snatch gold ahead of French vaulters Romain Mesnil and Renaud Lavillenie.

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