Downing Closes Junior Worlds with Relay Gold
BARCELONA, Spain - Just one day after running the leadoff leg for the United States in Saturday's semifinal round of the 4x400-meter relay, LSU's Quincy Downing put his squad in the lead with a career-best split of 45.07 seconds as the Americans won gold at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Sunday's finale at Barcelona's historic Olympic Stadium.
Downing opened with the fastest split on the team as the United States posted a 2012 world junior leading time of 3 minutes, 3.99 seconds for the ninth-fastest time in championship history.
After Downing popped off a 45.07-second split from the gun, Aldrich Bailey held the lead with his 46.74-second split before handing off to Chidi Okezie at the second exchange. Okezie ran 46.40 on the third leg, before handing off to Arman Hall on the anchor with a comfortable lead. Hall brought it home in 45.78 as the Americans won the gold medal by more than one second with their winning run of 3:03.99.
Poland scored the silver medal in 3:05.05 and Trinidad & Tobago won the bronze medal in 3:06.32, while Australia (3:06.58), Jamaica (3:07.31), Saudi Arabia (3:09.26) and Japan (3:09.67) rounded out the field.
"The leadoff felt great," Downing exclaimed following the race. "I feel great. Training with the LSU staff has been great. It's been a big part of this team. I've known some of these guys for a long time, and have even run against them too. When we came here, I knew it was going to be a great team based on all of our selections. I knew we'd win a lot of medals. It's fun to be a part of this."
The 4x400-meter relay has proven to be one of the signature events for the United States for the history of the IAAF World Junior Championship as it has now won six-straight gold medals in the event dating back to the 2002 season and 12 gold medals in 14 appearances all-time since 1986.
Downing's performance wrapped up the most successful IAAF World Junior Championships in history of the LSU Track & Field program as the Tigers brought home four medals from the event.
Tiger freshman Aaron Ernest was a three-time medalist for the United States as the leader of the country's sprint squad. Ernest anchored Team USA to the gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday with the second-fastest time in history by a junior team at 38.67, while he also swept sprint silver medals by racing to PRs of 10.17 in the 100-meter dash on Wednesday and 20.53 in the 200-meter dash on Friday.