August 28, 2004 8:53 pm
U.S. women cruise to 4x400 gold
ATHENS, Greece - DeeDee Trotter, Monique Henderson, Sanya Richards and Monique Hennagan weren't going to take chances.
Their plan was to take an early lead in the women's Olympic 4x400-meter relay final Saturday night at Olympic Stadium and simply run away from all would-be pursuers.
They'd seen the U.S. women's 4x100 team botch its baton passes and fail to finish Friday night. They'd seen the U.S. men's 4x100 team bobble its way to silver earlier Saturday night, after gold seemed a certainty.
So they weren't about to take any chances.
The plan worked to perfection as the United States raced to a decisive 3:19.01 triumph over Russia (3:20.16), Jamaica (3:22.00) and five other finalists.
The splits were 49.19 for Trotter, 50.28 for Henderson, 49.81 for Richards and 49.73 for Hennagan.
It was the third consecutive Olympic Games to see the U.S. women collect 4x400 relay gold, and the second in a row for Hennagan. She teamed with Jearl Miles-Clark, Marion Jones and LaTasha Colander to win at Sydney in 2000.
Trotter, who'd run fifth in the individual Olympic 400, loved the stadium atmosphere, especially with a Greek team in the running.
``It was an awesome crowd, the cheering pushed us to go faster,'' said the University of Tennessee senior from Decatur, Ga.
``We came here as a team; we wanted that gold medal,'' said Hennagan, the University of North Carolina graduate who now lives in Columbia, S.C. She was fourth in the individual 400.
``It's a wonderful feeling, winning the biggest competition of the world, in front of such a cheering crowd,'' said Henderson, a UCLA junior.
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COMMENTARY AND PERSPECTIVE
MIKE LOPRESTI | Gannett News Service
IAN O'CONNOR | The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News
CHRISTINE BRENNAN | USA TODAY
DAN BICKLEY | The Arizona Republic
LYNN HENNING | The Detroit News
BOB KRAVITZ | The Indianapolis Star
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