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September 30, 2000
US men take 4x100 goldThe Rediff Team
Poland, Japan, Cuba, Brazil, USA, Jamaica, France and Italy lined up for the glamorous men's 4x100 relay. But there was only one team in it, really. The question was not whether the US would win, but by how much. And whether the world record of 37.40s, set in 1992 by the American quartet of Mike Marsh, Leroy Burrell, Dennis Mitchell and Carl Lewis would still be standing at the end.
It was. But only just, as Maurice Greene ran an incredible last lap. About ten strides out into his run, it was as if he stopped the others in their tracks -- you could see the gap opening with every single stride the 100m world champion took.
The US had 100m finalist Jonathan Drummon running the first leg, and Greene's training partner got the side off to a great start with superb acceleration off the blocks and a perfect baton change. From then on, runners number two and three, Bernard Williams and Brian Lewis, merely had to maintain, and hand it to Greene. The 100m champion, as always, took off too early, then had to check and wait for the baton, causing a certain loss of momentum -- but once he got the baton, he was hell on wheels. While on that, you have to wonder if that record would have stood had Greene practised his baton-changing a bit more -- in the preliminaries, in the semis and now in the finals, Greene did everything but drop the stick.
The US made it home in 37.61.
Brazil was second in 37.90. But in the post race celebrations, the Brazilian quartet of Vincente Lima, Edson Ribeiro, Andre Silva and Claudinei da Silva pipped the Americans by the simple expedient of carrying the Australian flag along with the Brazilian flag -- a ploy guaranteed to get the crowd on its feet.
Cuba, tipped to give the US a fight, ended up third in 38.04, lining up Jose Angel Cesar, Luis Alberto Perez, Ivan Garcia and Freddy Mayola.
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