The U.S. won gold over Usain Bolt at a global championship for the first time since 2007 in the 4x100m relay at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, on Saturday night.
The U.S. quartet of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey clocked 37.38 seconds, beating the Bolt-anchored Jamaican team that finished in 37.68.
Rodgers, Gatlin and Gay provided a .48 lead to Bailey, according to IAAF splits, which proved too much of a deficit for Bolt to make up in a rematch of the anchor legs from the 2012 Olympics. At the London Games, Bolt and Bailey received their batons almost simultaneously, and Bolt won it by two tenths of a second.
“I’m not in the best shape,” Bolt told media in Nassau.
On Saturday, Bailey celebrated the U.S. victory by mimicking Bolt’s famous “To Di World” pose, turning it into a throat-slashing gesture.
“I feel comfortable bringing it home, running against Usain,” Bailey told media in Nassau.
The U.S. quartet included the three fastest Americans in the 100m in 2014, plus Bailey, who was fifth in the 2012 Olympic 100m.
The Jamaican quartet did not include Olympic 100m silver medalist Yohan Blake, who has been plagued by injuries since he matched Gay as the second-fastest 100m sprinter ever two weeks after the London Olympics. Nor did it include Asafa Powell, the 100m world-record holder before Bolt who was the fastest Jamaican 100m sprinter in 2014.
“We just need to go back to the drawing board [for the World Championships relay in Beijing in August],” Bolt told media in Nassau.
The World Relays were anticipated as a Bolt-Gatlin showdown, but Gatlin, the fastest 100m sprinter in the world in 2014, ran the second leg in both the preliminary heat and the final, as he did in the London Olympic final. Bolt and Gatlin have not raced head to head since 2013.
Gatlin and the U.S. and Bolt and Jamaica could face off in the 4x200m relay as the World Relays close Sunday night (Universal Sports, 7 p.m. ET).
Earlier in the women’s 4x200m relay, Jeneba Tarmoh and Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix collided on the final exchange, with the U.S. giving up the lead and failing to finish. Tarmoh couldn’t get the baton into Felix’s hand, and both runners fell. The 4x200m is not an Olympic event.
Tarmoh and Felix memorably tied for third place in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials 100m final. No tiebreaker was in place, a runoff was eventually decided and Tarmoh chose not to run, giving Felix the final individual spot on the Olympic team in the event.
Nigeria ended up winning the women’s 4x200m after the Tarmoh-Felix collision.
The U.S. women fared better in the distance medley relay, breaking the world record. The distance medley relay, also not an Olympic event, includes a 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m.
The U.S. quartet of Treniere Moser, Sanya Richards-Ross, Ajee’ Wilson and Shannon Rowbury clocked 10:36.50 (video here). The previous mark was 10:48.38, also set by the U.S., in 1988.
Richards-Ross is the Olympic 400m champion, Wilson was the fastest 800m runner in the world in 2014 and Rowbury was one of seven women to clock a sub-4-minute 1500m in 2014.
The U.S. quartet for Duane Solomon, Erik Sowinski, Casimir Loxsom and Robby Andrews edged Kenya to win the 4x800m relay (video here), which is also not contested at the Olympics. Kenya was then disqualified for an illegal baton exchange.
Solomon was fourth in the 2012 Olympic 800m final. Missing were Kenyan Olympic champion David Rudisha and American Nick Symmonds, the 2013 World Championships silver medalist.
OlympicTalk recently caught up with Katie Ledecky to discuss life since moving from Stanford to Florida 15 months ago, her meticulous mindset, and the legacy she continues to build.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can also catch an encore presentation of Ledecky’s performance at the 2022 U.S. Open this Saturday at 4:30 pm ET on NBC.
What does a typical day look like for you Gainesville? Walk me through a full day starting from the minute your alarm clock goes off.
Ledecky: A typical day would be waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning and swimming from 6 to 8. Then I have weights from 8 to 9:15. I get breakfast, have lunch and then take a nap. Then I have practice again at 2 or 3 in the afternoon for another two hours.
Wow, that sounds incredibly busy! Have you had a chance to find any new favorite places to eat in Gainesville?
Ledecky: I’m still kind of finding my spots. There is a breakfast spot pretty close to campus that a lot of the swimmers like, so I go there quite a bit, but I’m still looking. I haven’t gone to very many places more than once.
What are you doing in your free time? Are you coaching?
Ledecky: Yes, I’m volunteering with the [University of Florida] team, but I think of myself more as a teammate. I have a lot of other things going on with sponsorships, but aside from that, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have a piano and enjoy playing that!
How often do you get to see your family?
Ledecky: My parents, David and Mary, still live in the D.C. area, and then my brother, Michael, lives in New York, so I’m a lot closer to home [than at Stanford]. I see them around the holidays, and they come to a lot of my swim meets.
I know how much you love to stay academically engaged. Are you taking any classes at the University of Florida?
Ledecky: I’m not taking any classes right now. I’m taking a break, but I’m still trying to learn as much as I can just in other areas, reading a lot and watching the news, following different things that I’m interested in. I think at some point, I’ll probably go to grad school, but I’m still figuring out what area that would be in right now.
There’s a quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I feel like that only scratches the surface of describing your work ethic and mindset. You demand excellence in every area of your life, not just from yourself, but from others around you. Can you talk about where that mindset comes from?
Ledecky: I’ve always had that kind of a mindset. I’m very driven, and I’m always setting new goals for myself no matter what I’ve achieved in the past. I’m always looking forward, I don’t take very many breaks, and so it’s always on to the next goal and making sure I’m doing the little things right and doing the things I need to do to reach my goals.
To be able to perform at the level that you do every single day takes a lot of mental toughness. What do Katie Ledecky’s inner thoughts look like? What do you tell yourself? Any affirmations?
Ledecky: I try to stay positive no matter how well or how poorly a practice or a race is going. When I’m swimming, I give myself positive mental pep talks along the way throughout a race. I’ll say “keep it up,” “hold pace” or “hit this turn.”
I just want to read you a few tweets…
I know we frequently talk about how dominant Katie Ledecky is but I somehow still feel like we don’t talk about her enough.
You idolized Michael Phelps when you were younger, and now you’re that person for a lot of people. You’re the GOAT. You’re Katie Ledecky. Someone’s idol. What does that feel like?
Ledecky: It’s an honor to have young swimmers look up to me, and I don’t take that lightly. I try to be a good role model and reach out to young kids and sign autographs and take photos if people approach me at swim meets. I hope that there are some young swimmers out there that will grow up to be champions or maybe they’ll just continue to love the sport or find other things that they’re passionate about, but it’s an honor.
Have you had any memorable interactions with young swimmers?
Ledecky: Yeah, actually the World Cup in Indianapolis [in November]. We were given those giant checks at the end of the meet that you really can’t travel with, so I was able to sign it and give it to one of the basket carriers at the meet. They were thrilled, and it was fun to be able to put a smile on their face.
Give me just one word to describe each of these milestones in your life, starting with the 2012 Olympics.
Ledecky: The first. It was my first international competition and my first gold medal, so that’s the one that’ll probably be the most special for me forever.
2016 Rio Olympics.
Ledecky: Consistency. I was swimming in multiple events at the Olympics for the first time and I just got into a really good rhythm and felt so comfortable in the pool deck. So confident. That was just a very unique feeling.
Ledecky: Tokyo was different with all the COVID protocols. Nobody in the stands. No family there. But it was a lot of fun still, so a lot of great memories with my teammates there.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind at the end of your career? What do you want to be remembered for?
Ledecky: I’d like to be remembered as somebody that worked really hard and gave my best effort every time I got up on the blocks and represented Team USA. Hopefully, I can continue to inspire young kids to work hard in whatever it is that they are passionate about, whether that’s something academic, athletic, or something else. If you find something that you really love, you should go all in on it and try to be the best you can be at it.
You’ve achieved so much in life already personally and professionally, I just want to ask: Are you genuinely happy? Are you satisfied in this season of life right now?
Ledecky: Oh yeah, I’m very happy. I love the sport more and more every year. I get a little sad thinking about the day I will eventually retire–which isn’t anytime soon. I love the sport. I’m trying to just enjoy every day of training and racing and trying to be the best that I can be.
I say this all the time, I never imagined I would even make it to one Olympics and so to be training now to try to qualify for a fourth Olympics is it’s all just icing on the cake at this point and something that I truly enjoy. I enjoy doing it with my teammates, striving for similar goals, and getting to do it with really great people.
Knowing all that you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self — the little Palisades Porpoise?
Ledecky: I don’t have very many regrets or anything in my career, so I think I would just continue to tell myself to have fun and enjoy every moment. Maybe, write down a little bit more early on. I’ve done a better job of journaling and writing down different things so that I can remember them down the road, but I didn’t do as good of a job in 2012 and 2013.
Finish this sentence: I’m not ready for a meet without …
Ledecky: My suit, cap and goggles.
Did you have AIM back in the day? What was your embarrassing screen name?
Ledecky: I didn’t. I didn’t even have a cell phone until before the London Olympics. I think I actually borrowed my brother’s phone for that, and then we went out and bought an iPad so that I could FaceTime my family from London. I didn’t have an email account either until high school.
Your life is on the line. You need to sing one karaoke song to save it. What are you picking?
Marie-Philip Poulin became the first female hockey player to win Canada’s Athlete of the Year after captaining the national team at the Winter Olympics and winning her third gold medal.
Poulin, 31, scored twice and assisted once in Canada’s 3-2 win over the U.S. in the Olympic final on Feb. 17. She has scored seven of Canada’s 10 goals over the last four Olympic finals dating to the 2010 Vancouver Games — all against the U.S.
Nine different male hockey players won Canada Athlete of the Year — now called the Northern Star Award — since its inception in 1936, led by Wayne Gretzky‘s four titles. Sidney Crosby won it in 2007 and 2009, and Carey Price was the most recent in 2015.
Poulin is the fifth consecutive Olympic champion to win the award in an Olympic year after bobsledder Kaillie Humphries in 2014, swimmer Penny Oleksiak in 2016, moguls skier Mikaël Kingsbury in 2018 and decathlete Damian Warner in 2021.
Canada’s other gold medalists at February’s Olympics were snowboarder Max Parrot in slopestyle, plus teams in speed skating’s women’s team pursuit and short track’s men’s 5000m relay.
In men’s hockey, Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in leading the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy as the season’s best defenseman.
The Northern Star Award is annually decided by Canadian sports journalists.