Ja­maican ‘ruff necks’ go out with bang in China

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALASTAIR HIM­MER

Even with­out Usain Bolt, Ja­maica fin­ished the world cham­pi­onships with a bang on Sun­day, storm­ing to the women’s 4x400-me­ters re­lay ti­tle to match Kenya’s gold tally at the top of the medals ta­ble.

An­chor leg Nov­lene Wil­liams-Mills pulled out an eye­pop­ping last 50 me­ters to catch Fran­cena McCorory as the Ja­maicans clocked this year’s best time of three min­utes, 19.13 sec­onds to pip the United States on the line in Bei­jing.

“I came out here with a Ja­maican ruff neck,” said third leg Stephenie Ann McPher­son, us­ing Ja­maican slang for ‘street thug,’ adding: “My team-mates did a great job.”

The Amer­i­cans hit back to take the men’s 4x400 me­ters, vet­eran LaShawn Mer­ritt pass­ing Carl Lewis as his coun­try’s most dec­o­rated male world cham­pi­onships ath­lete with 11 medals.

But they will leave China with a sense of fore­bod­ing be­fore next year’s Rio Olympics af­ter play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to the Ja­maicans, who won seven gold medals — three of them, in­evitably, Bolt’s.

Kenya also fin­ished with seven golds plus six sil­vers and three bronzes, an over­all tally which edged them ahead of Ja­maica on the fi­nal stand­ings.

But their suc­cess was tem­pered af­ter two of their ath­letes, Joyce Zakary and Koki Ma­nunga, failed pre-com­pe­ti­tion drugs tests. Hosts China placed 11th with one gold, seven sil­vers and one bronze.

“That’s when you have the heart of a cham­pion,” Wil­liamsMills said of her lung-burst­ing pur­suit of McCorory. “That’s what you do. These girls, they had it all the way.”

Amer­i­can star Allyson Felix looked to have dug the Olympic cham­pi­ons out of an early hole with a blis­ter­ing third leg to give McCorory a lead into the last lap, un­til Wil­liams-Mills kicked com­ing into the home straight to win it for Ja­maica. Bri­tain took bronze in 3:23.62. As heads went down once more in the Amer­i­can camp, Mer­ritt flexed his mus­cles by an­chor­ing the United States to a sixth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory in the men’s fi­nal. Mer­ritt, David Ver­burg, Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nel­lum fin­ished in 2:57.82 to ex­tend a re­mark­able win­ning streak dat­ing back to Helsinki in 2005. Trinidad and Tobago claimed sil­ver in 2:58.20 with the UK tak­ing bronze in 2:58.51.

Kenya’s demon­strated their mid­dle- dis­tance bril­liance again when As­bel Kiprop com­pleted a world ti­tle hat- trick in the men’s 1,500 me­ters to add to the 800- me­ters gold won by David Rud­isha ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion. Kiprop, who also won gold at the Bird’s Nest in 2008, surged home in 3:34.40 in an elec­tri­fy­ing fin­ish.

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