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IAAF World Championships, Osaka - Final Day

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4x400m women
A bronze glow!

2 September 2007

 

Women’s 4x400m Relay

 

The relay quartet topped off a dramatic week for British athletics, displaying the grit and determination that has been the hallmark of the entire Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland team to win bronze, repeating their success from two years ago in Helsinki.

 

This time round the team of Christine Ohuruogu (Newham & Essex Beagles), Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet), Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) and Nicola Sanders (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) had the honour of smashing the 16-year-old UK record, shaving nearly two seconds off the old mark with 3:20.04.

 

The foursome got off to a solid start through 400m individual champion Ohuruogu, unofficially timed at 50.5. 800m semi-finalist Okoro took over and proving she has lost none of her sprint speed, clocked an unofficial split of 50.8 to keep the team well in medal contention.

 

She handed on to McConnell who produced probably the finest relay leg of her career, logging a superb unofficial 49.8 to leave individual silver medallist Sanders a mere five metres adrift of Russia and Jamaica on the anchor leg.

 

For a short moment on the back straight, it looked like a medal might just elude them, but Sanders timed her attack to perfection, kicking with 200m to go. She began to reel in the Russian and burst past in the final 20 metres. Her leg was unofficially timed at a startling 48.8.

 

Afterwards, Sanders said: “They went off really hard, which I am not 100% confident of doing. I just wanted to sit in behind them, but they had a few metres on me, but as I was coming round the bend, I started to wind it up and feel strong again.

 

“Coming down the back straight, I was thinking ‘don’t let them get away too much’. But as soon as I started winding it up around the bend, I felt more confident. All I could picture was the 400m final and she was outside me (Natalya Antyukh, Russia) and I got her.

 

“So I just moved out wide and went for the line. I felt really strong and she was fading. At the beginning of the year I didn’t think I’d be here, so to come away with two medals is fantastic.”

 

Men’s 5000m

 

Mo Farah (Newham & Essex Beagles) demonstrated just has far he has come in the past couple of years with a superb 6th place finish in his first ever World Championships. Running fearlessly, he took the pace on with 600m to go and made a break for home.

 

It broke the field, leaving several big names, including Australian Craig Mottram trailing. With 200m, Farah was still in with a shout of a medal place, but just didn’t quite have the kick to finish the job, coming home in 13:47.54. Nonetheless, it was a magnificent effort and provides a great platform for next year’s Beijing Olympics.

 

USA’s Bernard Lagat won gold in 13:45.87 to add to his victory in the 1500m, former champion Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) took silver in 13:46.00 and Moses Ndiema Kipsiro (Uganda) picked up bronze 13:46.75.

 

After the race Farah said: “I’m pleased and I think it went really well, given that it was such a slow race. I knew that I had to go from 600m out and push the pace with people like Lagat in the race.

 

 “I was aware that I was here in the World Champs final and I had felt good in the heat and came into the final feeling good. My training has gone really well and I have to thank Alan Storey, Mark Rowland and all the medical team for all the support they’ve given me.”

 

Men’s 4x400m Relay

 

A valiant effort from a young British team saw Andrew Steele (Trafford), Rob Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) Richard Buck (City of York) and Martyn Rooney (Croydon Harriers) come sixth in 3:02.94.

 

With an average age of just 21, the quartet looked to the future as they battled in a race dominated by a USA team that won in 2:55.56 and included individual gold medallist Jeremy Wariner.

 

The GB&NI squad was in a bunch of four teams behind the runaway Americans when a physical third change-over saw Buck stumble as two athletes fell.

 

He recovered to run 47.08 before handing over the baton to Rooney on the last leg, who ran a fast 44.29 to bring the team home.

 

After the race Rooney said: “The oldest in the team is 23. We are very young and there is a lot to come. It’s a big jump from junior to senior level and we have learnt a lot by being here and running here.”

 

Steele said: “We are looking to the future and there’s no doubt we are a young team. It would good for us to be peaking in five years time, in time for London.”

 

 

For more news and photographs from the 11th IAAF World Championships click here