Russia’s finest two-lap runners were denied individual gold by an inspired Czech at the Palais Omisports de Paris Bercy yesterday. But they made no mistake in the team competition this afternoon as Russia retained the women’s 4x400m relay title, destroying the competition to win by a yarning winning margin of more than two seconds.
Russia took the gold in 3:29.34 while behind them Britain handed the noisy crowd one of its few disapointments on a pulsating afternoon of host nation success by pipping France to silver in 3:31.36.
It was the fourth time Russia have won this event, the fourth in the last six championships, in fact. And they did in some style, leading from gun to tape with four powerful legs from Kseniya Zadorina, Kseniya Vdovina, Yelena Migunova and Olesya Krasnomovets who had been so disappointed to lose individual gold to Denisa Rosolová 24 hours earlier.
“I felt like I was running every leg, not just mine,” said Krasnomovets. “I was shouting at all the other girls and trying to support them.
“The main aim was to put a gap between us and the other teams on the first leg. From then I hoped that everything would work well.
“For us this was definitely not a boring competition. We were quite confident but anything can happen. We were trying to avoid mistakes, not to drop the baton.”
“This relay was very difficult for the girls who ran the individual 400m already,” added Zadorina, the individual bronze medallist. “We were tired from three rounds, but it was also difficult for the two girls who had not run yet because they were very nervous and thrilled to be on the start. The crowd was amazing here.”
Zadorina went off hard on the opening leg and had a five-metre lead by the first changeover with French star Muriel Hurtis chasing hard for France.
Germany were third at the first exchange but by the third leg Migunova had taken Russia more than 10m clear with Britain’s Marilyn Okoro now challenging Marie Gayot for the hosts.
When Krasnomovets got the baton in her hand she simply pulled her team further ahead, stretching the lead to 20m, then 30, leaving Jenny Meadows to battle with Floria Guei.
The Briton, who had finished out of the 400m medals at her national championships last month, produced an impressive performance on anchor here only 75 minutes after she’d come second in the 800m final.
Britain’s silver matched their position from Turin while the French medal was the host nation’s first since winning silver in 1973.
Although well adrift of the medal action, Italy’s fourth place came with a national record of 3:33.70, while Germany held on to fifth in front of Ukraine.