By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Olympic champions the United States reclaimed their women’s 4x400m relay world title as Jamaica suffered more injury heartbreak in the World Championships final on Sunday.
Twenty four hours after Usain Bolt sensationally pulled up in his relay event, Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby slowed down clutching her leg 20 meters into her second leg and went to ground, ending Jamaica’s reign as world champions.
Jamaica had been in the lead, but American Allyson Felix surged clear of the field to open up a 15-metre gap in a superb split of 48.7 seconds.
Team mates Shakima Wimbley and individual 400m champion Phyllis Francis duly extended the gap to win gold in a world leading time of 3 minutes 19.02 seconds.
Felix enhanced her record as the most decorated athlete in World Championships history by winning her 11th gold to equal Bolt’s haul. It was her 16th medal overall.
“It does mean so much to me every time,” Felix said.
“I’m grateful to run with these amazing girls. They work so hard and deserve all their success. It’s an honor to run in the relay for Team USA and I will always treasure these moments.”
The 60,000 spectators inside the London Stadium were on their feet as Britain finished second in 3:25.00 to clinch silver, an upgrade from their bronze at the Olympics last year. Poland came third in 3:25.41 to claim bronze.
McLaughlin-Whilby had to be taken off the track in a wheelchair and her withdrawal meant there was no farewell run for Novlene Williams-Mills.
The 35-year-old, who made her debut in this event at the 2004 Olympics in Athens where Jamaica won bronze, overcame breast cancer in 2013 and won six World Championship medals overall.
Williams-Mills was due to take the baton from McLaughlin-Whilby for her final run but was left stranded on the start/finish line due to her team mate’s misfortune.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)