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Mike Rosenbaum

American 4 x 4 World Record Caps Off the Indoor Championships

By March 9, 2014

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The final event of the World Indoor Championships produced the meet's only world record, as the United States broke its own world indoor mark in the men's 4 x 400-meter relay. The team of Kyle Clemons, David Verburg, Kind Butler and Calvin Smith finished in 3:02.13, to break the official mark of 3:02.83 set by the American squad at the 1999 World Indoor final. An American all-star team posted a time of 3:01.96 in 2006, but the result wasn't ratified for record purposes because there was no EPO drug testing after the race.

The British team actually held a narrow lead after one leg on Sunday as Conrad Williams passed the baton just before Clemons handed off to Verburg. But the second American quickly moved in front and the U.S. never trailed again. Butler maintain the lead, although both Great Britain and Jamaica remained within striking distance. But neither nation could overcome Smith, who posted a split time of 45.12 seconds. The British squad took the silver in 3:03.49 while Jamaica gained the bronze in a national indoor record time of 3:03.69.

The start of the women's 4 x 400-meter relay race confusing but the ending was no surprise. The first two starts were waved off due to an apparent technical problem with Jamaica's starting block. The runners then stood up from line on the third try due to crowd noise in support of Ivan Ukhov in the high jump. But the difficulty didn't upset veteran Natasha Hastings, who gave the United States the lead after the first leg. Joanna Atkins opened the gap much wider with a 50.85-second split on the next leg. Francena McCorory finished her leg in 50.36 to maintain the American advantage and Cassandra Tate ran by herself as the U.S. gained the victory in 3:24.82, the fourth best indoor time in history. Jamaica placed second in a national and Commonwealth indoor record 3:26.54, while Great Britain placed third in 3:27.90.

To nobody's surprise, Genzebe Dibaba pulled away from the field in the final laps to win the women's 3000-meter gold medal in 8:55.04. A very slow early pace left the Ethiopian with no opportunity to challenge for another world record, after setting three indoor world marks early in the season. Dibaba patiently jogged from the back of the field up to second place during the early laps. By the 2000-meter mark Dibaba was in her accustomed spot in front of the field and wasn't going to be caught. Kenya's Hellen Obiri took second in 8:57.72 while Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain finished in 8:59.16 to gain third place.

Three-time champion Bernard Lagat made a strong bid for another World Indoor gold medal, but youth was served in the men's 3000-meter final. The race featured a slow early pace until Kenya's Caleb Ndiku moved in front with a bit less than three laps remaining. Lagat remained in the middle of the pack, then charged into second at the bell. He chased Ndiku around the track during the final lap but the 39-year-old American couldn't catch the 21-year-old Kenyan. Ndiku crossed the line in 7:54.94, while Lagat became the oldest men's World Indoor Championships medalist by taking second in 7:55.22. Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel (7:55.39) then held off American Galen Rupp (7:55.84) for the bronze medal.

Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar scored a mild upset in the men's high jump final by defeating Russia's Ukhov, who dominated indoor high jumping prior to the Championships. Barshim was perfect in his first seven jumps, through 2.38 meters (7 feet, 9 inches). A confident Ukhov was unblemished through 2.34/7-8, having passed at two heights, then passed again at 2.36/7-8. But Ukhov missed twice before clearing at 2.38 to fall behind Barshim. Neither man could clear 2.40/7-10, leaving Barshim with the gold, as well as the Asian indoor world record. Ukraine's Andriy Protsenko cleared 2.36 and was in silver medal position until Ukhov survived at 2.38, leaving Protsenko with the bronze.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made her World Indoor Championships debut successful by winning the 60 meters in a world-leading and personal best 6.98 seconds. The Jamaican, who already owned five major outdoor individual gold medals, started fast and added a sixth big-time gold to her Olympic and outdoor World Championships total. She's also the second runner, along with teammate Veronica Campbell-Brown, to win world titles in the outdoor 100 and 200 plus the indoor 60 meters. Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast was second in Sunday's final, finishing in 7.01, while American Tianna Bartoletta (formerly Madison) took third in 7.06.

American Omo Osaghae gained a razor-thin edge after the final hurdle and out-leaned France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in the 60-meter hurdles final. Osaghae took the gold in a world-leading 7.45, followed by Martinot-Lagarde (7.46) and fellow Frenchman Garfield Darien (a personal best 7.47).

Eloyse Lesueur of France leapfrogged from second to first in the fourth round to earn the women's long jump gold medal. Lesueur led after one round with a leap of 6.72/22-, but Great Britain's Katrina Johnson-Thompson took charge in the next round after jumping a personal best 6.81/22-4. The distance held until Lesueur's winning leap of 6.85/22-5. Serbia's Ivana Spanovic settled into third place in the opening round and never left the spot, eventually reaching 6.77/22-2 on her final try to secure the bronze.

The women's pole vault featured the deepest field in World Indoor Championships history, with nine women topping 4.55/14-11 and seven clearing 4.65/15-3. Yarisley Silva of Cuba was the only surviving vaulter with a miss at 4.65, so she sat in seventh place, but leaped into first as the only competitor to clear 4.70/15-5 on her first try. American Jenn Suhr had opened by clearing at 4.65 but passed at 4.70, a decision that may have cost her a medal as she - like the rest of the field - failed to clear 4.75/15-7. That left Silva as the gold medalist, while Russia's Anzhelika Sidorova and Jirina Svobodova of the Czech Republic shared the silver medal, as both cleared 4.70 on their second tries.

American Chanelle Price went straight to the front and never left in the women's 800-meter final, winning the race in a world-leading 2:00.09. Price set a fast pace with a 27.88-second opening lap, then eased off the gas a bit, but responded to every challenge on the final lap. She's the first American woman to win a World Championship 800-meter gold medal, either indoors or outdoors. Chasing Price to the finish line were Poland's Angelika Cichocka, who took the silver in 2:00.45, and bronze medalist Marina Arzamasova of Belarus, who finished in a personal best 2:00.79.

In the men's 800, event favorite Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia had to fight from the back before earning the gold in 1:46.40. Aman made his initial move in the last half of the race, advancing to third behind Polish home-crowd favorites Marcin Lewandowski and Adam Kszczot. Aman needed almost the entire last lap to get past the Poles, finally getting clear coming out of the final turn. Kszczot took second in 1:46.76 with Lewandowski running 1:47.09 to hold off hard-charging British runner Andrew Osagie by one-hundredth of a second. After the race, however, Lewandowski was disqualified for stepping onto the infield, giving Osagie the bronze medal.

Russia's Lyukman Adams soared from third place to first in a dramatic final round to win the men's triple jump. Adams sat in second after two rounds, trailing the then-world-leading 17.33/56-10 jump of Cuba's Ernesto Reve. But Reve had to drop out of the competition after injuring himself in the third round. Pedro Pichardo leaped 17.24/56-6 in the sixth round to move into second and set up a potential 1-2 Cuban finish, but Adams, in the event's last jump, leaped 17.37/56-9 to take the gold.

The originally-announced results from Saturday's women's 1500-meter final were changed as third-place finisher Rababe Arafi of Morocco was disqualified for a lane violation. Canada's Nicole Sifuentes moves up from fourth to third to claim the bronze medal.

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