Ugen's leap of faith in anchoring England to gold

Lorraine Ugen anchoring England to the 4x100m gold, ahead of Nigeria's Rosemary Chukwuma.
Lorraine Ugen anchoring England to the 4x100m gold, ahead of Nigeria's Rosemary Chukwuma.PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ugen competing in the long jump final, where she finished fourth.
Ugen competing in the long jump final, where she finished fourth.PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GOLD COAST • Two days after finishing fourth in her pet event, long jumper Lorraine Ugen found herself anchoring England's 4x100m women's team - and winning gold.

The 26-year-old sensationally held off Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson on the home straight as Jamaica failed to win either of the 4x100m relays yesterday to finish the Commonwealth Games without any of the short sprint titles.

Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith and Bianca Williams helped England establish a comfortable lead and Ugen, fourth in Thursday's long jump final, ensured England set a national record of 42.46 seconds to claim gold.

"I was told that I had to run so I was like, 'Okay, I can't disgrace myself today'," said Ugen, who was drafted in at the last moment.

Ugen, who ran a personal-best 11.37sec in March, had to stand in for the injured Corinne Humphreys. England were already missing Desiree Henry and Daryll Neita, part of the British quartet that won silver at last year's world championships.

But they still dethroned Jamaica (42.52sec) while Nigeria took bronze (42.75sec).

Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt yesterday joked that he had perhaps retired too soon after Jamaica men's team also came up short at the Carrara Stadium.

With Bolt anchoring the relay, the sprinting superpower won four of the six golds in Glasgow four years ago and had been expected to dominate again despite the 31-year-old hanging up his spikes.

"Did I retire too soon? Hmmm," Bolt tweeted after the team anchored by Yohan Blake finished third behind England (38.13sec) and South Africa (38.24sec) in 38.35sec. "Watching the relay just now made me ask myself a few questions."

Former world champion Blake, the 100m favourite who settled for bronze, said he had been left with too much to do in the final leg by an inexperienced team - none of whom were in the line-up four years ago.

"We have some great young guys but they haven't been exposed as yet, we just hope they can get it fast," he said.

"To be honest, I'm not going to lie, it's not that they are getting better, it's that we are not performing. Because if we were performing with the times that we are running, they couldn't stay with us."

Bolt, who retired after last year's world championships, joked on his arrival on the Gold Coast as a spectator last week that he would be giving Blake a good ribbing for missing out on the 100m gold.

"He's going to trouble me a lot because he expected me to get the gold in the 100," Blake said with a laugh. "What happened was I slipped at the start and I couldn't recover. I was in record-breaking shape and I'm still in that but I'm going to hide from him when I go home."

Jamaica hit back to win the women's 4x400m relay, before Botswana raced away to win the men's 4x400m, celebrating by dropping to perform group push-ups as a small pocket of flag-waving fans went wild.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 15, 2018, with the headline 'Ugen's leap of faith in anchoring England to gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe