USA, Jamaica pump up World Championships' 4x100m showdown
There was a flash of annoyance across Usain Bolt's face after he and his 4x100m teammates finished at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays in The Bahamas on Saturday night.
After all, second place is a bit of a collector's item for the sprint icon.
The USA claimed their first 4x100m win over Jamaica at a senior global event since the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, stopping the clock in a pretty impressive early-season 37.38 seconds, with Bolt, shaking his head in disappointment as the Thomas A Robinson Stadium crowd wondered what to make of the mini piece of history.
Jamaica crossed the line in a season-best 37.68, while Japan were third in 38.20.
For Bolt, who refused to make much of the loss, it was hardly a surprise.
However, for the Americans, it clearly meant a whole lot more.
Ryan Bailey, minutes before admitting that Bolt running by him on the anchor leg at the 2012 Olympic Games was carved in his memory, held off the big Jamaican this time after taking the baton a few healthy strides ahead. And his somewhat controversial celebration - Bolt's 'To di Worl' pose, amended with a finger dragged across the neck in 'cut-throat' fashion, as well as the fist bumps and chest beating that followed among the US quartet - showed how big a deal it was.
"I've been wanting to do it for a while, so it felt good," said Bailey about his celebration. "It's only the beginning; we are establishing our dominance as we were in the past. We are all running great, and we are super confident heading to the World Championships. I don't see us coming off the top."
Bolt credited the US for their preparation, but noted that the real deal will take place in a few short months at the IAAF World Championships.
"I think the USA came out here well prepared, their athletes are in better shape, and you can tell by them equalling their national record," said Bolt.
"I'm not in the best shape, yet I know that Bailey-Cole isn't either, because I train with him, so we just need races. But there are a few months to go before the World Championships," said Bolt. "It's all about the championships."
He continued: "It' not an eye-opener, it's kind of expected. It's not about the one-off runs for me though.
"I'm all about the championships ... we just need to go back to the drawing board. We all have a lot of work to do, but this certainly makes it more exciting for the showdown in Beijing," Bolt smiled.
looking to improve
"We have the World Champs to focus on, so we must get this behind us. We just need to improve as the season progresses and we'll be ok," added Carter, who joined Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade as the other members on the Jamaica team
Justin Gatlin, who along with Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers completed the US quartet, said he is looking forward to again meeting the Jamaicans at the World Championships, and is expecting a strong response.
"At the end of the day, I have nothing but respect for these guys because they are hard competitors and they have built a legacy of winning, so we have to step up and rise to the occasion to be able to compete against that, so when it's time to clash, we clash, but I have tremendous respect for them," said Gatlin, whose blistering second leg was the main difference between the teams.