Team USA went into this weekend’s IAAF World Indoor Championships facing stiff competition in the men’s 4x400m relay.
All eyes were on the Jamaican squad, IAAF.org reports, and there was talk of a possible new world indoor record.
Indeed, Sunday, March 9, did see a new world indoor 4x400m record, but the speedy foursome doing the record-smashing were none other than Americans Kyle Clemons, David Verburg, Kind Butler, and Calvin Smith.
In the final event of the day, Team USA thrilled the crowd in Sopot, Poland, with a 3:02:13 finish, beating the previous indoor record of 3:02.83. That mark, also set by the United States, had stood since the 1999 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Maebashi.
Sunday’s runners-up also wore red, white, and blue, as Great Britain edged out Jamaica, finishing in 3:03.49—two-tenths of a second faster than the Caribbean contingent.
As IAAF.org reports, America and Britain were neck-and-neck after the first leg, and Clemons and his counterpart Conrad Williams both passed the baton at 45.98.
That’s when Verburg sprang into action, clocking 45.62 for his two laps, establishing a solid lead, and setting the stage for Butler and Smith to shore up the victory with 45:41 and 45:12 performances, respectively.
"The combination of these guys is amazing,” Clemons said after the race, according to ESPN. “They brought it out of me.”
The same three teams topped the field in the women’s 4x400m relay, though the order was slightly different. Team USA led the way, setting a new North American indoor record with a time of 3:24.83 and holding off Jamaica, which set a national indoor record of 3:26.54. Great Britain took third in 3:27.90, chopping a full second off the time that earned them gold in Istanbul in 2012.
The twin 4x400m relay victories were part of a big weekend for the U.S. team, which will go home from Poland with a tally-topping 12 medals, eight of them gold. Runner-up Russia earned five medals, three of them gold.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg