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Relay Dominance Helps Team USA Tie its Highest Medal Count


BYDGOSZCZ, Poland -- Another sweep of relay golds and a pair of individual bronze medals lifted Team USA to a tie for its highest-ever medal count Sunday on the final day of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships at Zawisza Stadium. With 21 total medals, including 11 golds, the U.S. matched the 2002 and 2014 teams, and the 11 golds equal the second-biggest haul ever behind only the 13 won in 2004.

The medal-total record for any nation at the World U20 Championships is 22 (Soviet Union - 1988).

Wil London (Waco, Texas) made up a big gap on the anchor leg of the men’s 4x400m relay to give Team USA a ninth-straight World U20 gold with the fourth-fastest time in U20 history in 3:02.39. London took the final exchange behind Botswana, which featured a pair of sub-45 open 400m men, and walked down their anchor on the home stretch to win by almost a half-second with his 44.82 circuit. Botswana’s 3:02.81 was the sixth-fastest U20 time ever.

The U.S. handed off in the lead after a strong opening leg by Champion Allison (Richmond, Texas), but Ari Cogdell (Hialeah, Florida) had to deal with Botswana’s Baboloki Thebe, a 44.22 performer and the fastest U20 one-lapper this year. Thebe sprinted to the lead and turned in a 43.5 leg before passing to teammate Karabo Sibanda, the 400m bronze medalist. Sibanda clocked 45.38 on his carry but didn’t add anything to the lead as Kahmari Montgomery (Plainfield, Illinois) was stalking him all the way with a 45.27. A very effective handoff between Montgomery, the SEC indoor and outdoor 400m champion, and London set up London’s majestic anchor tote. Team USA has won 14 of the 16 4x400 finals in World U20 history.

For the eighth time in a row and the 10th time in World U20 history, Team USA ran away with the gold in the women’s 4x400m relay, stopping the clock at 3:29.11, the fourth-fastest time in world U20 history.

Individual medalists from three events keyed the U.S. effort, with 400m silver medalist Lynna Irby (Indianapolis) running the opening leg to hand off in a virtual tie for the lead to 400m hurdles winner Anna Cockrell (Charlotte, North Carolina). Cockrell settled in behind Jamaica’s second runner and then turned on the jets over the last 50m to pass the baton to Karrington Winters (New Albany, Ohio). Winters broke the race open over the first 200m of her leg, pulling away from Stacey-Ann Williams of Jamaica, who inexplicably ran her entire leg in lane two. With 800m gold medalist Sammy Watson (Henrietta, New York) on anchor, the U.S. had few doubts about the outcome and Watson confirmed the confidence with a strong and safe 52.47 leg to put the American quartet atop the podium.

Overcoming a hesitant start, Tia Jones (Marietta, Georgia) made up ground steadily in the women’s 100m hurdles final and took the bronze in 12.89. Alexis Duncan (DeSoto, Texas) was out very quickly and in medal contention until she clattered the sixth barrier and was slowed slightly. She kept her composure and finished fourth in 12.93, setting a new personal best for the second day in a row.

During the first two laps of the women’s 1500m final Alexa Efraimson (Camas, Washington) was content to let Britain’s Bobby Clay make the pace, running just behind her and coming through 400m in 68 seconds and 800 in 2:15. Efraimson took the lead by the 1000m mark, and then yielded it to Ethiopia’s Adanech Anbesa as they entered the final circuit. Christina Aragon (Billings, Montana) lurked in the lead pack, and as the top four came off the final bend she made a final push to take over third and held off a challenge from Kenya’s Winfred Mbithe to take the bronze with a lifetime best 4:08.71. It was the first World U20 medal ever for Team USA in the event. Efraimson finished fifth in 4:10.23.

Through the first 400 of the men’s 800m final Brian Bell (Dayton, Ohio) was just behind the leader, coming through in 53 seconds. Bell stayed in medal position until the final 120m but couldn’t match the 1:45 pace produced by the Kenyan duo and ended up seventh in 1:47.68.

With no misses through 1.83m/6-0,  Nicole Green (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida) finished in a tie for fifth in the women’s high jump.

A second straight lifetime best in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase placed Kai Benedict 14th in 8:49.13, clipping two seconds off the PR he set in the heats.

Team USA at the IAAF World U20 Championships all-time

At these Championships Team USA became the first nation to win 100 golds in the history of the IAAF World U20 Championships dating to when the competition was first held in 1986 in Athens. The U.S. added two more golds to that total on Sunday, taking the U.S. to 105 golds all-time. American men have won 59 and American women have won 46. Team USA has won 227 World U20 medals all-time.

IAAF World U20 Championships background

The IAAF World U20 Championships were previously known as the IAAF World Junior Championships before undergoing a rebranding heading into 2016. The last World U20 (then known as Junior) Championships was held in Eugene, Oregon in 2014.

Field events at the World U20 Championships are employing a new competition protocol in finals.

Twelve competitors qualified for each final. Qualifying marks were wiped out at the start of the final. The field of 12 got three attempts before being cut to the top six. The remaining six athletes received one more attempt, as opposed to the prior protocol of three more, for a total of six attempts.

The best mark after each competitor made four attempts won.

The U.S. U20 team was selected based on performances at the USATF Junior Championships from June 24-26 in Clovis, California.

Bydgoszcz hosted the World U20 Championships in 2008. The city is the first to host the World U20 Championships twice.

Follow the World U20 Championships on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using #Bydogszcz2016, and watch on Universal HD Sunday, July 24 from 10 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. ET.


Athlete quotes

Lynna Irby - 4x400m relay
On running the leadoff leg …
“We knew we wanted to get as big a lead as possible so why not have the 400m silver medalist pop it off and Samantha (Watson) close it in with her good 800m kick. And the other two ladies (Winters and Cockrell) to do the rest of the work for us.”

On how her leg went …
“I felt good. I felt controlled and relaxed. I knew I just needed to run as fast as I could to give my team a chance so I was trying to run fast.”

Wil London - 4x100m relay

On his anchor leg …
“I just told my teammates ‘you don’t have to give me a lead, just make sure you give me the stick at a good balance where I can catch the guy.’ That’s exactly what they did. I knew i had the strength to do it. I’ve done it several times this year so I used the same mentality I always had.”

Tia Jones - 100m hurdles

On her race …
“I got out of the blocks slow, but kept my composure. I’m going to have to go back and work on a few things, but I’m happy I placed. I wanted to PR, but I’m happy with how I finished.”

Christina Aragon - 1,500m
On her strategy in the final ...
“Going into that semifinals I don’t know that I had put myself in the best mindset. I was scared of running against all those women. It’s hard for me to tell myself ‘you belong here. You can run with these girls and you can be in that qualifying pack.’ Today whether the times showed or not I tried to go in there with my head thinking I can hang with these girls. I can be with that lead pack. That’s just what I tried to do because if you try and fail at least you can do anything to do it.”

On how the race worked out …
“We went out a little faster than I anticipated, but I think that helped me because I’ve always been stronger when it’s an even pace. I’ve probably had my best races, where I felt the best with 500 to go, where I felt we ran an honest, even pace and everything. Since the race was like that I think it definitely helped me.”


1. United States: 21 (11 gold, six silver, four bronze)



1. United States: 213


SUNDAY – July 24, 2016



3. Tia Jones: 12.89

4. Alexis Duncan 12.93

Wind (+2.0)


14. Kai Benedict: 8:49.13


3. Christina Aragon: 4:08.71

5. Alexa Efraimson: 4:10.23


5. Nicole Greene: 1.83m/6-0

7. Brian Bell: 1:47.68


1. United States (Irby, Winters, Cockrell, Watson): 3:29.11

1. United States (Allison, Cogdell, Montgomery, London): 3:02.39

TV/Streaming Schedule - IAAF World U20 Championships



Start (ET)

End (ET)





9:00 PM

10:00 PM


Day 6

Contributed by Glen McMicken, and Jake Most, Team USA Press Officer - IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016

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