It was the penultimate night of the athletics schedule in the 2012 Olympic Games and it seems every event just was battling for the headlines or the Oscar award of most dramatic event. It could not have been more interesting.
The USA beaten in the 4 X400 meters men relay, the French learn to jump, Team GB disqualified from the 4 X 100 meters men, Uceny falls again, Oscar Pistorius makes history, Nigeria qualified for the 4 x 400m women finals (ok I admit, not that dramatic but considering our performances so far…) and oh lest I forget…a new world record in the 4 x 100m women.
Well what a night it has been in London. It started with Frenchman Lavillenie Renaud surprising all and winning the Pole vault with an Olympic record of 5.97 meter while defending champion Steve Hooker failed to clear a height.
The next event seemed the only event without any incident as the 4 x 400m women ran their semi finals. The only news note worthy here was that Nigeria made it through to the finals…and after the kind of disappointments they have experienced so far in London, that was indeed good news.
There was also an Olympic record in the women Hammer throw as Lysenko Tatyana of Russia claimed Gold with a distance of 78.18 meters. The biggest cheers of the day came when the American and Jamaican teams came out in the respective heats for the 4 x 100m. Jamaica ran in heat one and even without the ‘Legend’ Usain Bolt , they ran a world leading time of 37.39 seconds to win only to be outdone in the next heat by the American team , also without Tyson Gay, as they ran a new American record of 37.38 seconds.
What a race the finals is turned out to be the following night with Jamaica blowing the USA and everyone else and the world record away in one of the most dramatic relay races you will ever see. However the biggest disappointment of the night came as Team GB were disqualified from the relay after coming second. Britain, who won this event at the 2004 Games in Athens, were disqualified in Beijing four years ago and have now made a mess of baton changes in five of the last six major championships.
The 5,000 meters women had its share of news as Meseret Defar upstaged World Champion Cheruiyot Vivian and fellow Ethiopian and 10,000meters champion, Tirunesh Dibaba to win the race. After several efforts and close encounters, this is her first major championship win. The 1,500 meters women final, despite its slow pace produced its share of the drama as US champion Uceny Morgan fell in with just about 350 meters to go. The 27-year-old also fell in last year's world championships at Daegu. Yet she had such a strong résumé that she was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2011. It seems her luck just runs out in major finals.
The 4 x 100 meters women relay finals served up some memorable drama. It was a straight fight between the all conquering sprint queens of Jamaica and the determined Americans. In an incredibly fast race, Allyson Felix, Tianna Madison and Bianca Knight built a big lead, and Jeter brought the baton home anchoring the U.S. to its first Olympic gold medal in the sprint relay since 1996 with a time of 40.82, more than a half-second faster than a record that had stood for 27 years.
However, the biggest shock of all was the defeat of the US men’s team in the 4 x 400m relay final. It was the first time the US team failed to win the 4x 400 meters relay in 32 years. The last time was in Moscow 1980 which the US team boycotted. (That is not including the Sydney Olympics which they were later disqualified for cheating.) The fact that the US team lost the Gold from a winning position in the last 50meters illustrated the shock the more.
Despite all these drama, nominations and headlines, the Oscars went to Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to run in a track final as the reinstated South African 4 x400m men relay team ran a season’s best of 3:03.46 to place eighth in the race.