On one side Jamaica, on the other the United States, in the middle Spain and zero complexes in front of the queens of world speed. The women’s 4×100-meter relay this Saturday in Eugene, Oregon, achieved the best position ever achieved by a national team at a World Championships distance, fifth, with a new record for Spain, the second consecutive after the achieved the streak by stopping the clock in 42.58 seconds. There are fifth and fifth places, and the one reached by the quartet of Sonia Molina-Prados (Manzanares), Jael Bestué (Barcelona), Paula Sevilla (La Solana) and María Isabel Pérez (Sevilla) is one of those who leave a good taste in the mouth : “Take this moment”, said the Andalusian to her companions, who formed a circle at the end of the route.
Spain started a little behind, but maintained the tension at all times and didn’t give up. He passed the 100m to the end, also the 200m, but the problems of Great Britain and Switzerland in passing the baton allowed them to pass them and finish fifth in the world and second in Europe, only behind Germany, which was bronze. It started with the seventh grade from the finalists, so the result surpassed expectations and it was evident in the euphoric faces of the sprinters.
What happened to make this leap in quality? “Our mentality has changed a lot. We believe we are their equals, we don’t see them as superior, we don’t feel inferior. I think we watch them face to face,” analyzes Maribel Isabel Pérez, “We have always known each other, the hand goes very quickly,” says Sonia Molina-Prados about the agility with which they pass the baton, and that maintain good relations between them.
For years the Spanish 4×100 record was one of those that stagnated. In Seville 2002 it was reduced by 44 seconds (43.78 s) for the first time. Eight years later the level dropped to 43.45s, and another eight had to pass before it struck again (43.31s). This 2018 mark, the last before the relay explosion that is now being experienced, has already been improved three times this year: 43.28 seconds at the Ibero-American meeting in Huelva (in a relay without Jael Bestué or Maribel Pérez) . And at the two races in Oregon: 42.61 seconds in qualifying and 42.58 seconds in the final, with the positive inertia suggesting that things may go down again soon, perhaps at the EM in Munich, which is in three weeks begins.
This constant evolution has allowed the Spanish brand to beat the men’s individual 400m record for the first time in history (43.03 seconds, set by South African Wayde van Niekerk). Additionally, fifth place in the relay matches that of Raquel González in the 35K walk, both of the Spaniard’s best positions in the Oregon World Cup, which ends this Sunday.
Surprising defeats for Jamaica and USA
Up front, the big surprise was the victory of the American helpers over the Jamaicans. The latter occupied the first three podium places in the individual classification and thus started the race as the clear favorite, but had to settle for silver in a very tight finish, only four hundredths behind.
Something similar happened in the men, where Canada silenced Hayward Field by beating the Americans, who had tripled in the 100m individual, at home. With this, the American squad adds a new disappointment: Of the last seven World Cups, they have only been able to win one: Doha 2019.