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It wasn’t even close. Team USA led the 4×400 meter relay the whole way. Talitha Diggs to Abby Steiner to Britton Wilson to Sydney McLaughlin. They ran 3:17.79, the fastest time in the world this year and the eighth fastest time ever run, to beat Jamaica, who finished second in 3:20.74, and Great Britain, who finished third in 3:22.64.
“I felt so much joy out there competing, hearing the crowd cheering, the wind in my hair. That was awesome,” said Diggs.
This gold medal was Team USA’s 33rd medal, the most ever won by a single country at a World Championships. It was also their 13th gold medal, which means Team USA has won the first World Championships ever held in their country. The Team USA women have won seven of the past eight 4×400 meter relays at the World Championships.
Team USA’s lead really grew over the third leg. Wilson’s 49.39 split was one of only two splits under 51 seconds on the third leg.
“I looked up [at the board] at the 200 and said ‘Oh nice,’ but then just focused on getting the baton to Sydney,” said Wilson.
McLaughlin, all alone in the front, ran the anchor leg in an extraordinary 47.91. Saturday night, after the 400 hurdles final, where she broke her own world record to win gold, she implied she was satisfied with what she’s accomplished in that event and is ready to try something new. Tonight’s performance on the 4×400 suggests that the open 400 meters might be her next move.
“Take the hurdles away, you know? It’s a little easier,” she joked. “It’s different from our open events because this is just fun for us,” said McLaughlin.
Steiner was a last-minute replacement for the team. Dalilah Muhammad, the bronze medalist in Saturday night’s 400 meter hurdles, injured herself on the warm-up and was unable to compete in the relays. Steiner got called up just five minutes before they headed to the call room.
“I’m always ready for when Team USA calls me up,” says Steiner, who ran seven races this week and over 50 races this year.
Allyson Felix is also ready when Team USA calls her up. She had left town after the mixed-gender 4×400 meter the first weekend of the championships and got the call a few days ago that she was needed in the 4×400 prelim. She came back to Eugene and raced Saturday night to get these four women into the final. “We all look up to her,” Wilson said. “We’ve been watching her since we were young, seeing her on TV and now seeing her here is amazing.”
Tonight’s 4×400 meter relay team was very young. All of them but McLaughlin competed in college this year. Diggs, the youngest, is only 19.
“Being able to bring it home for USA in the last event of the meet was really special,” said McLaughlin. “If we’re gonna do it, we might as well do it big.”