Sept. 1, 2007
Team USA swept the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays for the first time in 20 years, and a Gamecock ran a leg of both relays in the finals, with two other former Gamecocks helping the relays make the finals with their performances in the semi-finals. Former NCAA champion Miki Barber helped the women’s relay in the finals and Leroy Dixon ran the anchor leg of the USA’s winning 4×1 relay. Rodney Martin and Mechelle Lewis will split the winnings as well, helping the USA make the finals with their semi-final performances.
The men’s 4x100m victory was a nail-biter. The 2003 World Outdoor 200m silver medalist Darvis Patton reached Wallace Spearmon just behind the Jamaicans, but Jamaica botched their handoff while Patton got the stick cleanly to Spearmon. The 200m bronze medalist then ate up real estate on the backstretch, reaching Tyson Gay in first place.
But the handoff was rough, with Spearmon running up on Gay before completing the handoff. After a strong curve, Gay handed off to Dixon in first, but the 24-year-old native of Indiana had a tough task ahead: holding off world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica. The sixth-place finisher in the 100 at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Dixon did just that, reaching the line in a world-leading time of 37.78, well ahead of Powell and Jamaica, who were second in a national-record time of 37.89.
“I was just thinking bring it home for the USA,” said Dixon, who finished his career at USC in 2006. “There was a question about the anchor. We thought the world’s fastest man (Tyson Gay) should anchor, but I guess the coaches knew what they were doing. I guess that’s why they are the coaches and we’re the athletes. They told me last why they are the coaches and we’re the athletes. They told me last night I was running anchor and that they had the confidence in me to bring it home. This does a lot for my confidence.”
Safe passes and sound running got the U.S. women their second straight World Outdoor gold medal in the 4×100. Lauryn Williams led off the relay, handing off to 200m gold medalist Allyson Felix with the U.S. trailing Jamaica very slightly. Felix moved well on the backstretch, handing off to Miki Barber in a virtual dead heat with Jamaica. The 2007 Pan Am Games 100m gold medalist, Barber blew the race open, giving Team USA a large lead. 100 and 200 fourth-place finisher Torri Edwards then managed to hold off 100m gold medalist Veronica Campbell of Jamaica on the anchor leg, crossing the line, arms raised, in a world-leading 41.98. Jamaica was second in 42.01.
” All I was focused on was trying to keep the lead. I’ve run third leg a few times,” said Barber.
Martin, the fourth place finisher in the 200m, ran the lead-off leg of the 4x100m relay in the semi-finals, but did run the finals. Lewis, who made the semi-finals of the 100m, also ran on the 4x100m relay for the USA in the semi-finals. Both will share in the winnings and receive a gold medal for their efforts.
Team USA’s women’s 4x400m relays moved to Sunday’s final with ease. Hastings ran the anchor leg as the USA ran a world-leading time of 4:23.37 in the semifinals. The 2007 National Athlete of the Year, Hastings ran a 51.07 split as the anchor.
“We just wanted to make some clean handoffs and make it to the next round,” said Hastings. “Tomorrow night is the big show. I was relaxed just knowing who was on the team that I was running with. I knew they were going to take care of me regardless.”