It has been a very long time coming. For years, the Bahamas played second fiddle to the mighty USA, from the Penn Relays to the World Championships to the Olympics Games. Finally, the Caribbean holiday destination went down in history when it trounced the Americans in the 4x4 relay in London yesterday to become the country to hand the track and field powerhouse its first defeat in a final in 40 years.
The six-decade stranglehold by the US was broken when the team of Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller (in that order) ran a blistering time of two minutes and 56.72 seconds for a national record that erased the previous mark of 2:57.32 set at the 2005 World Championships. The US ran second in a season best 2:57.05 and Trinidad and Tobago, running 400m bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore, snatched the bronze in a national record of 2:59.40.
Bahamas entered the final with the fastest time in the preliminaries of 2:58.87, the same time registered by the US for second place in a photo finish. For the final, the Caribbean island made a switch that proved too much for the US: Brown was moved from anchor to lead-off and Miller was switched to anchor. Incidentally, the US also made a change, replacing an injured runner and moving heats anchorman Bryshon Nellum to leadoff.
As in the heats, Brown and Nellum staged a running battle that gave the US a slight advantage. With a split of 44.9, Brown passed to Pinder, who took the lead on the back stretch and maintained it with the fastest split of 43.5. Third-leg runner Mathieu had the uphill task against the American ace Tony McQuay but managed to hold him off with his split of 44.25, keeping the Bahamas in the lead.
But the ding-dong battle continued when the US anchor and veteran hurdler Angelo Taylor caught Miller, went by him and looked as if he would seal victory for the US. Miller, however, tailgated Taylor and waited on the right moment to strike. That he did coming off the final turn, charging past Taylor, who had nothing left to respond and faded. Miller ran a 44.1 spli
t for the upset.