Thrills, spills and 620 runners provide athletics programme with grandstand finish
Dropped batons, near collisions and 620 athletes brought the track and field schedule to a close at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games as a team featuring a shot putter and a triple jumper won gold in the 8x100m relay.
Relay batons change hands in the 8x100m relay
Team 34, comprised of eight athletes of different nationalities who were previously unfamiliar with each other, raced to victory in 1 minute, 40.20 seconds at Yanshan Road.
Luckily for German shot putter Merten Howe, he had a number of sprinters in his team, including men's 100m competitor Trae Williams (AUS).
“I ran third, and I ran all right,” Williams said. “I caught a few of the other countries.
“I thought the race was a really good thing. It was a shuttle relay, which is when you run up and down.
“There were a lot of dropped batons. But racing with all those athletes was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Williams’ Australia teammate-turned-rival Rachel Pace, also a 100m sprinter, came in second with Team 38 in a time of 1:41.39.
“It was really good running with other countries,” she said. “That was my first medal of the Games. Unfortunately I didn’t medal in my individual event, but to win as a group was just as good a feeling.”
Pace was enthused by how the event promoted interaction with other nationalities by dismantling the traditional country-based squad system.
“We had a wide variety of people,” she said. “The others spoke a little bit of English, just enough for us to communicate with each other.
“I’m really glad they have done something that promotes team events as well as individual.”
Her team-mate Amedee Manirakiza (BDI) said organisation was key to taking silver.
“My team was well organised,” he said. “Firstly, I was happy to qualify for the final, and I was delighted to win [a medal].”
The other members of the gold medal-winning team 34 were men's 1500m runner Daou Bacar Aboubacar (COM), men's 400m hurdler Witthawat Thumcha (THA), women's 400m runner Maria Simancas (VEN), women's triple jumper Tatiana Blagoveshchenskaia (RUS), women's 800m runner Lakeisha Ashley Warner (IVB) and women's 200m runner Ioana Teodora Gheorghe (ROU).