United States took control of the men’s 4x400m final from the start of the race with their opener David Verburg bringing the baton to the first exchange in pole position.
It was quite close at that stage though, with British first-leg runner Conrad Williams following close behind with Russia’s Maksim Dyldin also in the picture. Belgium, who were represented by the three Borlee brothers on the first three legs, was also close with Jonathan running first.
Kevin Borlee started fiercely on the second leg and for a moment was thinking of overtaking everyone at the end of the back-straight. He waited until the final straight though bringing Belgium to the second exchange in second place behind United States. Martyn Rooney brought Great Britain to the exchange in third place with Lev Mosin of Russia right behind him.
Arman Hall ran away from the others on the third leg to give United States a clear lead, but a lot was happening behind him. Sergey Petukhov had a really good third leg and after a successful exchange, Russian anchor Vladimir Krasnov was able to lift his team to second place on the first curve of the last leg.
United States, anchored by LaShawn Merritt, ran away with the gold medal, as usual, but Jamaica, out of the picture before last leg, had their anchor Javon Francis doing wonders in the back-straight with the youngster passing several teams to lift his country to second place with 200m to go.
Merritt strolled to the win in 2:58.71, a world-leading time this season and a fifth successive World title for the US. Russia’s Vladimir Krasnov attacked in the last 50 metres trying to get the loud crowd to carry his team to the silver medal, but at the last moment Jamaica’s Francis found some strength to keep the Russians at bay, finishing in a 2:59.88 season’s best for the silver.
To the great delight of the Luzhniki Stadium crowd, Krasnov finished in third for the bronze medal in 2:59.90 season’s best with Great Britain’s Nigel Levine fading badly on the last leg to finish in fourth, clocking 3:00.88.
Belgium’s tactic was to have their best runners in the earlier legs, but anchor Will Oyowe was not that far away from the fourth place, finishing in 3:01.02 for fifth. Trinidad and Tobago – who were challenging for the medals at halfway with 400m Hurdles World champion Jehue Gordon running the third leg – were sixth in 3:01.74, while Brazil clocked 3:02.19 for seventh and Australia set a season’s best 3:02.24 for eighth place.
The medal for Russia was their first in this event with the previous best finish being fourth place in Daegu two years ago.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF