Former Lady Vol leads USA to gold

OSAKA, Japan - Former University of Tennessee star Dee Dee Trotter played a role in the fastest United States women's 4x400-meter relay time in 14 years, and the Americans used that effort to catapult them to a gold medal Sunday at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Nagai Stadium.

With the men's 4x4 triumph later in the evening, the United States became the first country to sweep all four relay titles (women's and men's 4x100mR and 4x400mR) in the same meet at the World Championships. At the close of competition, Team USA tied the all-time World Championships record for gold medals with 14, matching its feat from 2005, and tied the American all-time medal tally at a World Outdoor Championships with 26.

After helping the U.S. to a world-leading time of 3:23.37 in the semifinals, Trotter joined forces with Allyson Felix, Mary Wineberg and Sanya Richards to deliver the Red, White and Blue its first women's World Championship gold medal in that event since 2003.

The Americans, who many expected would be challenged by either Russia or Great Britain, covered the distance in 3:18.55. Jamaica ran a national-record time of 3:19.73 to grab the silver, while Great Britain had an new record of its own in 3:20.04 with open 400m one-two finishers Christine Ohuruogu and Nicola Sanders serving as the opener and closer of the relay effort. Defending world champion Russia just missed medaling, taking fourth in a season-best 3:20.25.

"Basically, it was a difficult first leg," Trotter said. "A lot of teams took the same strategy that we took and put their best runners up first. It was a very strong first leg, stronger than I have seen in a few years.

"I was able to get out there and run a very strong first leg to put Allyson in a good position. She took it from there and just basically exploded us out to the lead. From then on out, it was like skating. We took it easy. Sanya brought us home with a spectacular time."

For Trotter, it was her first World Championships 4x4 medal obtained while running in the final. She aided the 2003 cause as well, but she ran only in the semifinals. The 2005 UT graduate also earned a gold medal as part of the U.S. 4x4 at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, running both rounds.

Earlier in the week, Trotter came away with a fifth-place finish in the finals of the 400-meter dash.

Trotter circled the track in 50.17 seconds to cross the line just behind fourth-place finisher Ana Guevara (50.16) of Mexico. Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu and Nicola Sanders took the gold and silver medals in 49.61 and 49.65, respectively, while Jamaica's Novlene Williams grabbed the bronze in 49.66. Mary Wineberg, the only other American to make the final, placed eighth at 50.96.

"I'm not disappointed, if that's any consolation," Trotter said of Wednesday's individual race. "I actually ran a very good race. I ran to the best of my ability. Of course, I would like to be first. I'll take what I get and use it as a motivation for next year.

"I still haven't had a real chance to go through the race in my mind to know what happened. I would like to see it, but I feel I gave it 100 percent. When you do that, you don't have any regrets."

Former Lady Vol Tianna Madison, the defending champion in the long jump, didn't have the kind of day she was looking for Tuesday at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Nagai Stadium.

Madison, who soared to international stardom two years ago when she won a world championship in the long jump at this meet in Helsinki, Finland, struggled to a 10th-place finish with a best leap of 21 feet, 2 3/4 inches. After soaring to 22-7 1/4 in 2005 and launching a professional career after only two years in college, today's showing was a disappointing outcome for the ex-UT standout.

"It's been a two-year build-up of stuff that's gone wrong," said Madison, who switched coaches and moved to Los Angeles in 2006. "It's just one of those track & field lessons that you have to learn, but hate to have to learn it at the world championships. I just need to go back to the drawing board and figure out why it works instead of having to learn how to do it."

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