A brother's tribute consoles US

Before settling into his starting blocks for the Olympic 400m final in the Beijing National Stadium yesterday, LaShawn Merritt blew a kiss and pointed up towards the smog-free sky. He was about to honour the memory of his late brother, and also answer a prayer for American sprinting – if the 400m race qualifies as a sprint, that is.

It will have to now, on the other side of the pond at least. The spanner that had already been thrown in the works of the US speed machines (by Usain Bolt in the men's 100m and 200m, and by the clean-sweeping Jamaican trio in the women's 100m) was still lodged in place and wreaking havoc in the Bird's Nest arena yesterday.

First came the women's 200m final. At the World Championships in Osaka last year, Allyson Felix was a woman apart at the distance, prevailing by the biggest winning margin in a global 200m final since Fanny Blankers-Koen's victory at the London Olympics of 1948. Veronica Campbell was 0.53sec behind in second place. Yesterday the 26-year-old Jamaican, now Veronica Campbell-Brown, gave it both barrels and emerged the clear winner in 21.74sec. Felix finished 0.19sec behind, an also-ran of a silver medallist.

Then came the dropped American batons at the final exchange in both the men's and women's 4 x 100m relay heats. With them went a century-long stretch of at least one US gold medal in one of the traditional sprint events. The last time they drew a blank (excepting the boycotted Moscow Games of 1980, naturally) was in the London Olympics of 1908.

And so the starred and striped hopes shifted upwards in distance to the 400m, the quarter mile of yore. The US had already suffered what was for them an unexpected blow in the women's final, Christine Ohuruogu having overhauled Sanya Richards to claim a British gold. As the eight men's finalists entered the home straight, there was little chance of a repeat. Croydon's Martyn Rooney was well off the pace and proceeded to cross the line a disappointing sixth in 45.12sec. As he did so, the US were already celebrating a clean sweep that was led by the inspired Merritt.

The 22-year-old from Portsmouth (Portsmouth, Virginia) was a class apart. He won in 43.75sec, a chasm of 0.99sec separating him from defending champion Jeremy Wariner, with David Neville snatching bronze by throwing himself over the line. Not quite redemption but a consolation of sorts for the crestfallen US, then. And a golden tribute to Antwan Merritt, who was killed when he was thrown out of a fifth floor college dorm window in Raleigh, North Carolina nine years ago.

"When I run I always think of my brother," LaShawn reflected. "Every time I go on the track I say a prayer in my brother's remembrance. He plays a big role in my success." A success in Beijing yesterday that placed into perspective the mere disappointments of dropped relay batons and go-slow sprinters.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent