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.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own