Commonwealth Games 2014: Show stopper Usain Bolt takes giant strides to win 4x100m relay final
Jamaican leads islanders to expected victory but there's a surprise relay win for England too
Sunday 03 August 2014
A curtain of rain enveloped Glasgow last night but this was about the final curtain call. A villain at the start of the week, Usain Bolt left Hampden Park in a tartan hat and scarf.
At one stage it looked like being a wash-out. As the rain lashed down, the main event was in danger of turning into the 4x100m freestyle but the skies above lightened and Bolt lightened the mood doing what Bolt always does.
He had to work for it, though. Taking over the baton from Nickel Ashmeade he was marginally behind the English quartet of Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty and Danny Talbot but it was the ultimate mismatch, the fastest man in the world against Talbot, not even a 100m specialist.
But it was encouraging night for British sprinting with silver. All too often they have dropped the baton. On a still wet track they made it stick and there is undeniably more to come with James Dasaolu, Chijindu Ujah and Dwain Chambers, all sub-10-second runners, capable of being added to the quartet.
England took a surprise gold in the men's 4x400m, Matt Hudson-Smith, who only made the switched to the 400m over the winter, defying the Olympic gold medallists Bahamas for the win.
There was a surprise win for England in the 4x400 as they beat Bahamas to the gold When Hudson-Smith ran in Glasgow a few weekends ago he was speechless as he dipped under 45 seconds for the first time. This time he was even faster, the reaction the same: "I'm just lost for words, it's just crazy. One minute I'm in under-20s and then in the seniors at the Commonwealth Games."
There has been a certain amount of furore that the Proclaimers will not play a role in the closing ceremony tonight so it was fitting that theirs should be the anthem to whip Bolt and the crowd into a frenzy before he raced.
He clapped, danced and gyrated as the crowd sang to the words to 500 Miles on the big screen. For Bolt, it was about a mere 100 metres and as ever his giant strides ate up the ground in front of him.
This was the gold missing from the set. The Olympic and world titles will certainly be more highly regarded but a first Commonwealth gold merely added to the legend and the adulation from an adoring Scottish public.
No one cared anymore what he might have said about their fair city. In the space of 20 seconds over two nights, it was the perfect PR campaign. Those on either side in the Scottish referendum would heed his advice in terms of a charm offensive, as he stayed long into the night posing for selfies and signing autographs.
Hudson-Smith clearly had not looked at the forecast, bedecked in sunglasses as he ran the anchor leg vacated by Martyn Rooney, who had opted against competing in the relay to focus on the European Championships. How he may came to regret that decision. Conrad Williams, in his trademark red headband, put England in the lead on the first leg. Michael Bingham, whose wife Shana Cox had earlier gone in England's women's quartet, dropped back to second in a position maintained by former decathlete Daniel Awde, who handed over to Hudson-Smith.
He appeared to show his inexperience, pelting into the lead at the halfway point, a bold move with Chris Brown on his shoulder, who had anchored the Bahamas to 4x400m Olympic gold.
Bolt and his team-mates But Hudson-Smith doused out the threat of the Fireman, as Brown is known, the 19-year-old somehow edging his large frame over the line for gold, a stunned expression on his face as he did so.
For what is supposed to be a fallow year for Christine Ohuruogu, she is in the midst of a busy few weeks. Next weekend she will travel to Zurich to compete in the 400m at the European Championships.
The Jamaicans, 1-25 with bookmakers for 4x400m relay victory, and Nigerians on paper were always going to be too tough to reel in and so that proved as Shana Cox, Kelly Massey, 200m specialist Anyika Onuora and Ohuruogu maintained that bronze medal placing to the finish.
It was the same order in the women's sprint relay. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored home the Jamaicans to gold in a Commonwealth Games record, with Nigeria in second and the four-woman line-up with an average age of just 22 of Asha Philip, Bianca Williams, Jodie Williams and Ashleigh Nelson highlighting the improvements in English sprinting with the bronze.
Philip insisted there was "a lot more to give" while Jodie Williams added: "The Europeans – we're going there to win it".
It was a near farce at times in the women's pole vault as torrid conditions first saw it delayed and then five athletes failed to even record a single clearance. It ended up being a straight contest between Australia's Alana Boyd, who cleared 4.40m, with Wales' Sally Peake, a part-time athlete who doubles up as a physiotherapist, taking the silver medal.
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