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Aussies land relay gold for Freeman


Jamaica suffer shock exit from womenís 4x400m setting up a thrilling Anglo-Australian duel.

Cathy Freeman

Long before this contest began, all eyes had been on Australia's Cathy Freeman. Her fitness was brought into serious doubt following a disappointing display in the heats.

The pre-race favourites Jamaica were led off by Alison Beckford, but she fell midway through the first lap.

With Jamaica gone, Australia were left in the driving seat. But Englandís determined foursome were not going to let Freeman have it all her own way.

Freeman has played her part in the Commonwealth Games, but her second-leg lacked the conviction needed to dispose of the host nationís challenge, as Helen Karagounis recorded the fastest split of the English quartet.

But once the baton was handed to Jana Pittman for the final leg there was clearly only one winner. The winner of the women's 400m had too much in the tank for the inexperienced Lisa Miller.

Pittman said: ďItís unreal. We didnít expect it. We went in hoping to come fourth. Itís the best. To come home with the gold medal, itís unreal.Ē

Freeman was equally shocked at taking the gold medal: ďItís strange, really strange because Iím not fit. To come here and win a gold medal, I never dreamed that this could ever happen to me. I dreamt of Olympic gold but this is just an absolute bonus.Ē

England's first leg runner, Helen Frost said: ďWe were lifted by the girls in the 4x100m winning a bronze, and we wanted to go out there and show that we were just as good. And we got a silver medal, which is amazing, absolutely amazing.Ē

The Nigerians took the bronze (3:29.16), steered home by Olabisi Ofalabi.

Scotlandís Lee McConnell capped her Games by bringing Scotland (3:31.50) home in a new national record. McConnell was delighted to add this to her silver medal in the individual 400m on Sunday.

Canada (3:32.24) took fifth place by a miniscule margin, from Cameroon (3:32.74). Trinidad and Tobago (3:39.14) claimed seventh spot.

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