Yesterday, four US women joined forces and achieved the unimaginable…
They broke the 4x100m world record. Their time: 40.82.
To give you a little perspective on how epic this performance is, consider this:
- The former world record of 41.37 was set back in 1985- 27 years ago. That’s almost three decades old.
- Who set it? The then East German team- Silkil Gladish, Sabine Rieger, Ingrid Auerswald, and Marlies Gohr. If you are unfamiliar with these ladies, check them out on Wikipedia and YouTube.
- This record of 27 years survived track & field giants Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, Chryste Gaines, Ingrid Miller, Gwen Torrance, Evelyn Ashford, Debbie Ferguson, Veronica Campbell, Aleen Bailey, the enhanced Marion Jones, and more. If you are familiar with these names, you are probably wondering, how is this possible?
The 4x100m (especially the Olympic 4x100m) is perhaps the riskiest event in track & field. Unlike the jumps, throws, hurdles, vaults, and open runs, risk in the 4x100m heightens by the amount of energy concentrated on the track. Four explosive athletes contained by a single lane must work together as one entity striving for the same goal- to bring the baton across the line first. As the clock ticks, these athletes must put aside their differences, egos, nerves, fears, and apprehensions, and concentrate their power to execute a calculated run as one fluid team. This effort, believe it or not, is an incredible challenge even for the world’s best. The energy on the track is beyond intense and can only be stabilized by successful hand offs. Figuratively, to achieve a successful hand off, energy must be channeled into a plastic or metallic baton and transferred from person to person without disrupting flow. Each leg must be careful not to fumble or drop the baton. They must also be careful not to run over or leave their mate, run out of the zone, accept the baton before zone entry, and pull up prior to the pass. How the baton is accepted, when, and where all affects flow. Anything can happen in the 4x100m, hence why the risks to the finish are high.
In past Olympics, some of the greatest sprinters experienced firsthand the risks of the 4x100m; hence, why the former record stood so long. As Carmelita noted in her after-run interview, the US has had problems in the past with getting the baton to the finish.
But this time, our women prevailed. Safe hand-offs. Great runs. A memorable performance.
Congratulations to Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, and Carmelita Jeter on their extraordinary achievement.