Mon | Sep 26, 2022

One for the team

Thompson Herah anchor leg for bronze not for herself Jamaica cap off Commonwealth with 4x400 silver

Published:Monday | August 8, 2022 | 12:08 AM
Jamaica’s women’s 4x100-metre relay team celebrate their bronze medal inside Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday.
Jamaica’s women’s 4x100-metre relay team celebrate their bronze medal inside Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday.
Team Jamaica pose on the podium after winning the silver medal in the women’s 4x400-metre relay inside Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday.
Team Jamaica pose on the podium after winning the silver medal in the women’s 4x400-metre relay inside Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, yesterday.
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While a relay bronze medal may not stand as the most treasured of the awards gained during a glittering career, Elaine Thompson Herah showed genuine pride and satisfaction in earning her three young teammates a hard-earned memento of their stay in Birmingham.

It was Thompson Herah’s seventh race in six days at the XXII Commonwealth Games, and while not admitting it, the phenomenal last-leg dash to overhaul Australia and deny them a medal was probably her hardest.

A combination of unimpressive baton changes – with the third to the already double individual sprint champion among the worst – left Jamaica clinging on to a distant fourth place and at least three metres behind the likely medal-bound quartets.

Nigeria were streaking away to a new African record of 42.10 and had already wrecked realistic home hopes of an England win.

But as the near capacity English lunch-time crowd screamed their approval of the leading nations roaring down the home straight, Thompson Herah switched on the after-burners to make some of the world’s best sprinters around her look like they were performing in slow motion.

The elated double Olympic Champion – the second fastest 100m runner of all time – beamed with pleasure as she joined her flag-engulfed teammates in celebration of the late snatch-and-grab raid on the bronze medal, albeit in an ultimately modest time of 43.08. Thompson-Herah enthused:

“The 4x100 is a team effort, and perhaps this is not our strongest team, but I told them not to panic and just pass that stick around.

“I just gave it my all to get back up to third and give my team a medal.

“I don’t remember much until I saw Remona (Burchell – third leg) coming, and our changeover wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t panic.”

Thompson Herah was brought in for the final on the anchor leg in place of Roneshia McGregor, who helped qualify but is more recognised as a 400m runner, helping claim bronze in the 4x400m at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and silver in the mixed relay at the 2019 Doha World Championships.

Natalliah Whyte, who endured an even more industrious week than her illustrious teammate, contesting both individual sprints plus the relay heat, was visibly delighted, having come an agonising fourth in the previous evening’s 200m final.

“Elaine and I had already had a few races before the others came out to help the team,” reflected Whyte.

“I went for it and gave it my best yesterday, but it just didn’t happen, so I’ll be patient and maybe it will happen next time.

“Elaine ran an amazing leg, and I’m so very grateful to be going home with a medal.”

Whyte took over from Kemba Nelson and handed the baton to Burchell prior to Thompson Herah’s medal-rescuing rocket-propelled anchor leg.

Jamaica had mixed results in the morning session on the final day and continued to struggle into the afternoon

Jordan Scott began the medal hunt but could only manage fifth place in the Triple Jump with a leap of 16.11m as India’s Eldhose Paul took gold with 17.03.

Megan Tapper missed out on the medals by eight-hundredths of a second, fourth in 12.67s, as Danielle Williams, also involved in a blanket finish, was awarded sixth in 12.69.

High hurdles sensation Tobi Amusan, the new World Champion and record holder, added Commonwealth gold in a Games record 12.30.

Anthony Cox (46.17) and Nathon Allen (48.00) finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the men’s 400m final while Junelle Bromfield (51.45) managed fifth in the women’s one-lap equivalent, where Barbados’ Sada Williams set a new Games best mark of 49.90s.

Ackelia Smith ended seventh in the women’s long jump while Navasky Anderson was fifth in the men’s 800 metres, and Jamaica’s men were disqualified from the men’s 4x400 after crossing the line fourth, but there was some joy later on.

Minutes after the men’s 4x400 disappointment, Jamaica’s quartet of Shian Salmon, Junelle Bromfield, McGregor, and Natoya Goule finished second behind Canada.

The make-shift team, including a 400 hurdler in Salmon and an 800-metre specialist in Goule, clocked three minutes, 26.93 seconds (3:26.93) for their silver medal.

Canada won in 3:25.84.

Keith McGhie