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Women’s 4x400 Clocks World-Junior Leading Time as Lone Team in Semifinal Rerun

BARCELONA, Spain – Under some very special circumstances, the U.S. women’s qualified for tonight’s final of the women’s 4x400 relay to start the final day of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Not only did the Americans better the time to beat by more than five seconds, they clocked the world-leading junior time of the year, running alone in a time of 3:34.25. The picturesque Estadi Olympic  was eerily quiet on the Sunday morning as only a skeleton crew of officials, event organizers, team leaders,  and media were on hand to watch the U.S. relay. During the race, announcers and music filled the venue as those on hand cheered the only event that occurred until tonight’s closing of the championships.
The rerun was allowed to be conducted because the IAAF Jury of Appeals upheld a U.S. appeal that was brought as a result of a disqualification in last night’s semifinal heat.
Conditions were set as close to the same as they were last night as though it were the restart of a suspended baseball game. Team USA was assigned lane two and the same relay order as last night – Kendell Baisden, Robin Reynolds, Kiara Porter, and Olivia Ekponé. The squad had to beat the time posted by Colombia from the second semifinal heat, 3:39.44, to earn a time qualifier.
Having just completed her high-school junior year, the 17-year-old Baisden (Beverly Hills, Mich.) had the unnerving job of leading off. She stood by the blocks as with normal protocol for about 10 minutes before starting the race. She handled the pressure beautifully, managing the best split of the relay at 52.9 seconds.
Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.) ran the relay’s second leg in a split of 55.1 seconds. Reynolds, who just completed her high-school senior season, also competed in the long jump earlier in the championships.
VCU freshman Kiara Porter (Yorktown, Va.) took the stick as the third leg. She completed her lap in 53.2 seconds.
Texas A&M freshman Olivia Ekponé (Germantown, Md.) ran the anchor in 53.3. She won silver in the 200 meters on Friday evening.
The U.S. had the best time among all qualifiers, but, because of the circumstances it doesn’t matter, they will be assigned to a lane in tonight’s final as though they were a provisional qualifier. Jamaica will draw the best lane as the top automatic qualifier from last night (3:34.96). Before today’s race, Jamaica held the world-leading junior time of 3:34.27.
The U.S. will be trying for their sixth-straight women’s 4x400 gold in the final slated as the penultimate event of the evening that has a 7:45 p.m., local (1:45 p.m., Eastern) start. Ashley Spencer and Erika Rucker are likely going to figure into the squad’s lineup in tonight race. The duo won gold and bronze, respectively, in the 400 meters o. Spencer clocked a championships-record time of 50.50 in that event’s final.
For those in the United States, will broadcast live coverage of the final day of the championships starting at 11:30 a.m., Eastern. A one-time use fee of $5.99 will be charged to watch the broadcast. Those with DirecTV or Dish Network can login to the site and watch for free.
Initially running a world-junior leading time of 3:34.12 to win heat one of the semifinals last night, Team USA was later disqualified as a result of being outside the exchange zone on the race’s first exchange (IAAF rule 170.7). Romania, running in the same heat, was also disqualified for being outside of the zone. Both teams filed a protest because the track officials placed the second-leg runners in the wrong position, near the end of the exchange zone.
When the batons were passed, it was clear via video evidence that both teams had passed outside the zone, so the protest was denied. However, the U.S. appealed that decision and it went to the championship’s Jury of Appeals.
The jury upheld the stand of the U.S. and decided to offer the American and Romanian squads an opportunity for a rerun. Romania rejected the offer, but the U.S. went along with the rerun that was slated for 11:00 a.m., local time.
According to the IAAF, the jury “(took into) consideration the special circumstances – young inexperienced athletes, different judges, different guidance, etc.” in their deliberations on whether the appeal on protocol was warranted.
Sunday, July 15 – Special Morning Session
4x400 RELAY
Q (1-Rerun). United States, 3:34.25 WJL
Q1 (1h2). Jamaica, 3:34.96

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