U.S. pulls off upset, gets upset in 4x100m relays at track worlds

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The U.S. women’s 4x100m pulled off the upset. The U.S. men’s 4x100m got upset.

The penultimate day of the world track and field championships produced surprises in the final two races on Saturday night’s program.

Melissa Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini and TeeTee Terry stunned a Jamaican women’s quartet that included Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceShericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah, who swept the individual 100m medals. The U.S. prevailed by four hundredths in 41.14 seconds.

Jefferson had the best split of the leadoff runners, then Steiner outsplit Thompson-Herah by .24, enough for Prandini and Terry to hold off Fraser-Pryce and Jackson’s charge.

“[If] there’s no chemistry, there’s no trust to be able to move the baton through the exchanges, then you aren’t really going to produce what you think you can produce just because you have the three or four fastest women,” Terry said. “Our chemistry was so good that we didn’t even really have to do much when we warmed up.”

Twenty minutes later, Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall and Marvin Bracy-Williams delivered silver rather than the expected gold. Canada, which won the men’s 4x100m at the last global championship held in the U.S. at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, edged the Americans by seven hundredths with Andre De Grasse anchoring.

The U.S. had subpar handoffs from Coleman to Lyles and even more so from Hall to Bracy-Williams on anchor.

The U.S. was without Fred Kerley, who won the individual 100m last Saturday as part of an American medals sweep, then suffered a quad injury in the 200m semifinals.

The U.S. is the greatest sprint nation in history, yet has swept the 4x100m golds at just one global championship (Olympics or worlds) in the last 29 years (22 meets). It is a testament that relays are not won purely by raw speed.

“A lot of people see that [silver] as a defeat, but to be honest with the struggles we’ve been having over the years, it’s just nice to get the stick around, run a fast time,” said Lyles, who was on the 2019 4x100m that earned the U.S. men’s lone gold since 2007.

Worlds finish Sunday with nine finals, including the women’s 800m (Athing Mu) and 100m hurdles (Keni Harrison), men’s pole vault (Mondo Duplantis) and decathlon finale and 4x400m relays.

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster | Key Events

Earlier Saturday, Allyson Felix made a surprise return to help the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay qualify for Sunday’s final. Felix, who thought last week’s mixed-gender 4x400m would be her last major race before retirement, was called in from Los Angeles (while eating hot wings and drinking a root beer float) to return to Eugene for the women’s 4x400m heats.

Felix, who was sixth at nationals in the individual 400m, had the fastest split of the four American women in the heat, but said she does not expect to be asked to be part of the final quartet. Expect 400m hurdles gold and bronze medalists Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad to be subbed in. Felix would still be in line for a record-extending 20th career world championships medal as prelim runners also receive medals.

Gudaf Tsegay gave Ethiopia a sweep of the women’s 5000m, 10,000m and marathon at worlds, taking the 5000m five days after earning silver in the 1500m and then being subbed into the nation’s 5000m lineup. She moved past Olympic gold medalist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands coming around the final curve. Hassan faded to sixth, one spot behind world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. On Her Turf has more on the women’s 5000m here.

Kenyan Emmanuel Korir followed his Tokyo Olympic gold with a world title in the 800m Korir overtook Canadian Marco Arop on the final straight. Algerian Djamel Sedjati also passed Arop for silver. No Americans made the final.

Like Korir, triple jumper Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal added a world title to his Olympic gold. No Americans earned a medal in the event for the first time since 2009.

Grenada javelin thrower Anderson Peters, who got his start throwing rocks at mango trees as a kid, repeated as world champion.

Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner of Canada pulled up with a left leg injury in the 400m, the fifth and final event of the first of two days of the competition. Warner was in the overall lead. Ayden Owens-Delerme of Puerto Rico, the NCAA champion from Michigan, took over the lead going into the last five events Sunday.

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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