The USA women’s 4×400 relay had to deal with a lot of adversity over the last 24 hours at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Initially running a world-junior leading time of 3:34.12 to win heat one of the semifinals on Saturday, Team USA was later disqualified as a result of being outside the exchange zone on the race’s first exchange (IAAF rule 170.7). Romania, running in the same heat, was also disqualified for being outside of the zone. Both teams filed a protest because the track officials placed the second-leg runners in the wrong position, near the end of the exchange zone.
When the batons were passed, it was clear via video evidence that both teams had passed outside the zone, so the protest was denied. However, the U.S. appealed that decision and it went to the championship’s Jury of Appeals.
The jury upheld the stand of the U.S. and decided to offer the American and Romanian squads an opportunity for a rerun. Romania rejected the offer, but the U.S. will go ahead with the race that is slated for 11:00 a.m., local time.
According to the IAAF, the jury “(took into) consideration the special circumstances – young inexperienced athletes, different judges, different guidance, etc.” in their deliberations on whether the appeal on protocol was warranted.
The U.S. had to run a time of 3:39.44 or faster to earn the final qualifying spot in the final. No other teams will be impacted. If the U.S. ran the time necessary, they would be added as the third time qualifier and ninth overall team.
Team USA also had to use the exact running order used on Saturday – Kendall Baisden, Robin Reynolds, Kiara Porter, and Olivia Ekponé. Baised and Porter participated in her first competition of these championships as they were on the squad list as members of the relay pool. Reynolds competed in the triple jump earlier in the championships while Ekpone claimed silver in the 200 meters on Friday.
This morning, the team stepped on the track by themselves and not only qualified, they ran a new world-leading time of 3:34.25! Running alone on the track, that’s quite a statement to the rest of this afternoon’s field.