- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2009

BERLIN | LaShawn Merritt raised the metallic blue baton high in the air as he crossed the finish line. Sanya Richards went with a simple flicking motion.

Both fine ways to celebrate a gold medal.

Bottom line? Both still had the stick in their hands at the finish.

The Americans got the baton around the track in the finals Sunday, leading to a 1,600-meter relay sweep to close out the world championships.

“Did you think anything less?” Angelo Taylor said, grinning.

The U.S. relays have had their share of foibles. This weekend at the worlds, the men’s 400 team was disqualified for making an exchange outside the allowable zone, and then the women’s squad didn’t finish after Muna Lee pulled up with a hamstring injury.

It all happened on the heels of the Olympics in Beijing, when the two sprint relay teams dropped the stick.

That wasn’t a problem Sunday in the 1,600-meter relay, which doesn’t use blind handoffs.

“We don’t want to harp on it,” Richards said. “I think sometimes if you put too much thought into it, it makes it too much of a challenge. We all know you get that stick and you have 400 meters to do whatever. We don’t put too much emphasis on that handoff.”

Merritt, Kerron Clement, Allyson Felix and Richards each won a second gold medal at the championships in the relays.

Felix, though, might have had a third. She was scheduled to run in the finals of the 400 relay before Lee went down with an injury.

“I’m definitely disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to run in the [400 relay] final,” Felix said. “But this was quite easy. I feel like we ran very well.”

Against the Jamaicans, too, which hasn’t happened often.

But the 1,600 relay isn’t exactly the Jamaicans’ specialty.

No, that would be the short sprints.

In that department, the Caribbean island again dominated the Americans. Jamaica won five of the six short sprint events at worlds, a streak that was interrupted only when Felix won her third straight world title in the 200.

The Americans did top the medal standings, winning 10 gold and 22 overall. That’s down from two years ago in Osaka, Japan, where the United States captured 26. Jamaica and Russia were next with 13 medals each.

“Any other team in the world who had [our] kind of linescore would be going back to ticker-tape parades,” said Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field.

But this is the United States, and expectations are loftier.

“I take on that expectation happily,” Logan said.

Even when Usain Bolt isn’t running, he still picks up honors. Bolt received a huge piece of the Berlin Wall on Sunday.

The Jamaican leaves the championships with two more world records as he obliterated his marks in the 100 and 200, shaving 0.11 seconds off each. He also won another crown in the 400 relay.

“The world championships were an outstanding event for me,” Bolt said.

No one could challenge him, but the Americans still remain hopeful.

“We’re going to chase him, and we’re going to catch him,” Logan said. “He may be 43 by the time we catch him, but we’re going to catch him.”

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