IT MAY NOT have been pretty, but the United States men got the stick around to recapture the 4×1 gold that last year went to Canada. The foursome of Christian Coleman, Fred Kerley, Brandon Carnes and Noah Lyles produced a world-leading 37.38 in becoming the ninth American squad to win the gold in 19 editions of the Worlds.
Sans Lyles, the same team qualified by winning heat I with J.T. Smith handling anchor duties. The first two handoffs went smoothly, but when Carnes got to Smith for the final exchange, he had to work hard to find Smith’s floating hand. The USATF Indoor 60 champ just barely held off the fast close of Ryan Watson and Abdul Hakim Sani Brown to cross in 37.67, just ahead of Jamaica (37.68) and Japan (37.71). France would end up getting one of two time qualifying spots with its 4th in 37.98.
In the second heat, Italy handled South Africa, 37.65–37.72, with Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs burning the backstretch. Great Britain got the third qualifier in 38.01, and Brazil earned the final time slot in 38.19.
Defending champion Canada controversially pulled Andre De Grasse off the relay to concentrate on the 200 final and ended up a non-qualifying 6th in 38.25.
For the final the United States drew lane 8, between South Africa and Japan. Italy, which had the fastest time in the heats, started in lane 5, with Jamaica in 6. Coleman, the ‘19 world 100 champ, produced his usual lightning start, and though he ran up a bit close to ‘22 world champ Kerley, he transferred the stick without incident.
On the backstretch, Jamaica’s Oblique Seville moved best, but was not even in Kerley’s sightline. The handoff from Kerley to Florida alum Carnes was rough, with Carnes having trouble finding the baton.
Carnes brought the team around the curve even with Jamaica and Italy, and after switching hands, his exchange with Lyles was the smoothest of the race. That gave this year’s double sprint champ the momentum he needed to pull away down the stretch to win by 2m, flashing three fingers to highlight his personal gold count as he finished.
The 37.38 was the second-fastest U.S. Worlds win ever, after only the 37.10 American Record set in Doha, by a squad also led off…