US Wins Gold In Mixed Gender 4x400m Relay at the 2023 World Athletics Championships

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Sunday, August 20, 2023, was the second day of the 2023 World Athletics Championships, currently taking place in Budapest, Hungary.

The packed day on the track saw one of the newer track events to be featured at the 2023 World Athletics Track & Field Championships—the Mixed Gender 4x400m relay.

This event was first introduced on the world stage in 2017 at the World Relay Championships.

Basically, the mixed gender 4×400 meter relay is the same as the classic 4x400m relay race, but the relay team of four runners now has to be composed of two men and two women.

The mixed 4x400m relay has become standard to be man-woman-man-woman for the relay legs in order.

Mirroring the young nature of the track event itself, the champions of the 2023 World Athletics Track & Field Championships 4x400m relay mixed gender event where are the very young relay team from the United States who pulled off a surprising upset to take home the gold medal for the US.

The US team was headed by Justin Robinson, who is just 21 years old and led off with the first leg, cruising through his 400m split in a blazing 44.47 seconds.

At this point, the US relay team had a very slight lead going into the first handoff zone.

With this slight lead, Justin Robinson handed off the baton to one of the women comprising the US mixed gender 4x400m relay team, a 22-year-old sprinter named Rosey Effiong.

Rosey Effiong completed her lap, the second leg of the relay in 50.38 seconds.

The race was super close at this point between the US and the Netherlands, with the announcer seemingly a staunch supporter of the Netherlands mixed gender relay team, forecasting the impressive abilities of anchor runner from the Netherlands, Femke Bol, to make up any possible lag behind the US given her leg speed.

The third leg of the relay for the US team was run by Matthew Boling, another young gun (23 years old), who ran his 400m split in 43.13 seconds.

This is really where the race got interesting because he passed off the baton to the anchor leg, Alexis Holmes, just a fraction of a second behind the baton pass executed by the Netherlands mixed gender 4x400m relay team.

When the runners from the US and Netherlands took to the track for the anchor leg, 23-year-old Netherlands sprinter Femke Bol did open up a slight lead over the 23-year-old American sprinter Alexis Holmes.

This made it seem that the banter between the two race announcers—Ato Boldon and Sanya Richards-Ross—that occurred during the third leg of the mixed gender 4x400m relay was indeed going to be true.

The announcers were seemingly adamant that if USA runner Matthew Boling did not hand off the baton with a huge lead to anchor leg runner Alexis Holmes, Team USA could kiss their chance at the gold medal goodbye as Holmes would not have the speed to hold off Femke Bol of the Netherlands even with a small head start.

Well, Alexis Holmes and Team USA proved the doubters otherwise.

Even though the very slight lead that US runner Holmes had going into the final lap was immediately reversed as the Netherlands speedster Femke Bol charged out front, Alexis Holmes kept within Bol’s wake. 

With about 150m left in the race, Holmes began to close the gap ever so slightly.

Down the final straightaway, it still looked like Bol would probably be able to hold off the determined US sprinter, but Alexis Holmes kept charging towards the finish line.

Femke Bol seemingly cramped up and ended up falling down onto the track, dropping the baton in the process.

This fall opened up the opportunity for Holmes to cruise through the finish line to not only win the race for Team USA, but the young US team also set a world record in the mixed gender 4×400m relay event in the process, finishing in a blistering time of 3:08.80.

Although all of the American runners on the US mixed gender 4×400m relay team ran great races, Alexis Holmes had a particularly stellar performance.

She not only tuned out the naysayers who were announcing the race and setting the expectation that she would be doomed to beat Femke Bol, but she ran a personal best.

Her open PR for the 400m dash is 50.32 seconds, but Holmes split 48.82 seconds in her relay leg.

Although relay splits generally don’t count as true personal records (PRs), they certainly count as personal bests (PB), and this was a huge one—and a timely one at that.

After the race, Alexis Holmes took to her Instagram to share her well-deserved excitement and pride about her performance and the US team world record as a whole, saying:

“A moment I will never forget🇺🇸❤️!!! I am officially a WORLD CHAMPION and World Record Holder🥳. I also split 48.8 on the anchor leg🥹! Words can’t even describe the joy I felt winning a gold medal for my country with my teammates yesterday. We went out there as underdogs, but we came out champions. This race really showcased the epitome of who I am… a fighter. I can’t wait to experience more moments like this. Thank you to my coaches, family, friends and supporters who believe in me unconditionally. I love y’all. God always has a plan❤️!!!”

What’s remarkable is that Alexis Holmes was not even the original anchor leg scheduled for the US mixed gender 4x400m relay team.

Two-time Olympian Gabby Thomas was reportedly the athlete originally scheduled to run the anchor leg, but the team shifted around.

Fortunately, there seems to be no bad blood between the two young American sprinters, as Gabby Thomas shared her support of Alexis Holmes on her social media account, noting:

“This is an Alexis Holmes stan account!!! Congratulations to our mixed 4×4 team 🇺🇸 That was an EPIC effort 👏🏽 🥇”

Holmes is in her first year as a professional runner for Nike, after competing for Penn State and then the University of Kentucky after transferring.

Because Femke Bol dropped the baton when she fell (a similar thing happened to her recently), the Netherlands team was disqualified.

This opened up the podium spots for Great Britain to win the silver medal with a finish time of 3:11.06, and the Czech Republic to take home the bronze medal with a 3:11.98 finish.

Given that this is a relatively new track event, and the fact that running events like the 2023 World Athletics Championships bring out the highest level of competition, both the GB relay team and the Czech Republic team set national records in their respective countries.

Overall, it was a super exciting event, particularly for Americans and UK runners, as medaling on such a prestigious world stage is amazing.

You can watch the 2023 World Athletics Championships mixed gender 4x400m relay race here.

You can find full results from the event and all of the future events at the 2023 World Athletics Championships this week here.

You can learn how to watch the World Athletics Championships here.

Try your own beginner sprint workouts by learning more here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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