BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — In a come-from-behind victory for the ages, Femke Bol of the Netherlands closed track's world championships Sunday by overcoming a 20-meter deficit down the stretch to finish first in the women's 4x400 meter relay.
It was the last race of the nine-day track meet and it more than made up for a slip-up on opening night by the country's biggest sprinting and hurdles talent. In that one, she was cruising for what looked like a sure medal when she fell at the finish line in the mixed 4x400 relay.
There was no medal that night, and all signs pointed toward a third-place finish when Bol received the baton to run the last lap Sunday.
With 300 meters to go, Bol wasn’t in the same camera frame with the two leaders, Jamaica's Stacey Ann Williams and Britain's Nicole Yeargin.
With a half a lap to go, Bol was five steps behind Yeargin.
With 100 meters left, her teammates were excited about the prospect of finishing third.
“To be honest, I was already happy with a bronze medal,” said Cathelijn Peeters, who ran the third leg.
Bol wasn't having it.
“I wanted to stay patient,” Bol said, “but in the last meters I said, ‘No, we have to take it.’”
The 23-year-old said her motivation for kicking it into overdrive was simple: “It’s your team,” Bol said. “I mean, I was tired. My body didn’t feel so well, but you have people before you running and they are going so deep.”
So she did, too.
First, she reeled in Yeargin. Then, she reeled in Williams. Then, she crossed the finish line first, fell to the ground and was surrounded by her amazed teammates. The Netherlands time of 3 minutes, 20.72 seconds edged Jamaica by .16 seconds, though nobody will remember the time — only the effort.
Bol, of course, already had a gold medal from her 400-meter hurdles race. Her comeback helped Peeters, Eveline Saalberg and Lieke Klaver win one, too.
“It was one of my most important runs ever, but it is the first time we became world champions so it applies for all of us," Bol said. "Every tenth and hundredth of a second was needed. We had good exchanges and still barely won it.”
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