After finishing one step off the medal stand in the 200 meters final Thursday, former LSU All-America sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was not going to be denied again Saturday, the penultimate day of the world championships.
Running anchor leg in the 4x100-meter relay for Great Britain on its home soil in London, Mitchell-Blake gamely pulled his team through in the closing strides to take the gold medal — shocking world powers Jamaica and the United States.
Great Britain was in front when Mitchell-Blake received the baton at the top of the home stretch while Jamaica and the U.S. were battling a couple of lanes away.
When Jamaican star Usain Bolt, running the final race of his storied career, pulled up with a leg injury about 60 meters from the finish line, Mitchell-Blake and former Tennessee star Christian Coleman were left to fight it out with the gold medal on the line.
Coleman eased in front of Mitchell-Blake, but then Mitchell-Blake surged in front about 5 meters from the finish line and out-leaned Coleman for the victory — the first gold ever for Great Britain in the event at the worlds.
Great Britain clocked in at 37.47 seconds, while the U.S. settled for silver at 37.52. Japan took the bronze medal in 38.04.
Mitchell-Blake wasn’t the only former LSU star running in a relay final Saturday. On the women’s side, former Lady Tigers Semoy Hackett and Kelly-Ann Baptiste helped Trinidad & Tobago advance to the final.
But with Hackett leading off and Baptiste running the anchor leg in her fourth world championships, Trinidad & Tobago finished sixth in 42.62 seconds as the U.S. took the gold in a world-leading time of 41.82.
Earlier, former LSU star Michael Cherry helped Team USA advance to Sunday’s 4x400 final when he ran the third leg on the unit that won its heat in a world-leading time of 2 minutes, 59.23 seconds. It wasn’t immediately known whether Cherry will line up in the final at 3:15 p.m. Sunday.
Former Lady Tiger Travia Jones ran the third leg on Canada’s 4x400 relay team that finished sixth in its heat in 3:28.47 and did not advance to the final.
The LSU track program will have one last shot at winning an individual medal Sunday when Charlene Lipsey races in the women’s 800 final at 2:10 p.m.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.