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Sunday, August 29, 1999 Published at 20:24 GMT 21:24 UK

Brits sprint to relay silver

In with a shout: Dwain Chambers takes the baton ahead of Maurice Greene

Seville 99
Britain's ambitious 4x100m relay team came so close to World Championship gold - but had to settle for silver after finishing just behind the USA.

The result means the British team leave Seville with seven medals - their best tally since 1993.

The BBC's John Rawling describes the men's 4x100m relay final
Only the fastest man in the world, Maurice Greene, could prevent the brave British quartet from claiming the title they had predicted they would win.

But the team of Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Dwain Chambers shattered the European record with a time of 37.73 seconds as they pushed the Americans all the way.

[ image: A delighted Maurice Greene claims his third gold meal for the USA]
A delighted Maurice Greene claims his third gold meal for the USA
Individual bronze medallist Chambers was involved in a head-to-head contest with Greene on a thrilling final leg.

Chambers looked to have a slight advantage going into the straight - but Greene proved just why he is 100m and 200m champion as he surged ahead over the final 20m.

The US triumphed in 37.59secs with Nigeria third in 37.91 secs.

John Rawling: "The British relay team really thought they could win"
Britain's management had opted for a high-risk "go for gold" strategy, knowing it could lead to a dropped baton.

But the smooth changeovers helped ensure that the record set by Colin Jackson, Tony Jarrett, John Regis and Linford Christie in Stuttgart six years ago was finally broken.

[ image: Friends again: Chambers (right) congratulates Greene on the US victory]
Friends again: Chambers (right) congratulates Greene on the US victory
Despite being beaten, the British team remained in bullish mood and inisted they would avenge their defeat in the 2000 Olympics.

"What you saw out there is only the beginning," said Campbell. "We honestly thought we could win. Now we'll be a lot hungrier for next year.

"We could have done with giving Dwain a little bit more of a lead than we did. But we did string it together well and to break the European record was marvellous."

Bahamas make their mark

Britain's women could not repeat the men's heroics as they finished eighth and last in the sprint relay, which provided a moment of glory for the Bahamas.

[ image: Debbie Ferguson dives for the line to give the Bahamas a surprise gold]
Debbie Ferguson dives for the line to give the Bahamas a surprise gold
The quartet of Marcia Richardson, Shani Anderson, Christine Bloomfield and Joice Maduaka clocked 43.52 seconds as the Bahamas struck gold in 41.93 secs.

France took silver (42.06) from Jamaica (42.15) as the United States - missing the injured Marion Jones - could only finish fourth in 42.30m.

The defeat meant Gail Devers was unable to extend her record for the most golds won in the championships which she took to five with victory in the 100m hurdles on Saturday.

Record haul for Johnson

The curtain came down on Seville as Michael Johnson won a record ninth gold medal in the final event of the championships, the 4x400m relay.

[ image: Britain's Joyce Maduaka and Christine Bloomfield reflect on their 4x100m efforts]
Britain's Joyce Maduaka and Christine Bloomfield reflect on their 4x100m efforts
Johnson anchored the USA to the men's title in a time of 2mins 56.45secs to beat the previous record of eight golds, held by compatriot Carl Lewis.

With the rest of the field destroyed, Poland trailed home for silver, with Jamaica third.

But in the women's 4x400m, the US were upset by Russia.

Natalya Nazarova won a close battle with former world 400m champion Jearl Miles-Clark in the final leg, crossing the line in a year's best 3:21.98.

The Americans, who had won gold at the last two world championships, were second with Germany taking the bronze.

Now for Sydney...

The seven-mdeal haul left British officials with much to be happy about.

Team director Max Jones said: "My prediction was we'd win seven medals. I am far more optimistic now about the Olympics in Sydney next year than I was before we came here.

"I have seen what the rest of the world can do now and I think we can go to Sydney with 15 or 16 medal prospects, which is what we will need if we are going to come back with seven or eight medals.

"Colin Jackson's gold was what we desperately needed as a nation. It shows that we can win and is a credit to the most professional athlete in Britain."

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In this section

Athletics saves face

Brits sprint to relay silver

Injury wrecks Backley medal bid

Wembley to host athletics showpiece

Red leader powers Korean runner to gold

Seville winners: Final day

Red-faced relay runners crash out

Devers wins, but Engqvist earns plaudits

Anton is home hero

Greene flies to historic double

Miller makes it gold

Johnson smashes 400m record

Radcliffe wins silver in 10,000 metres

Heat is on in Seville

Michael Johnson: Life in the fast lane

Jackson hurdles to gold

Magnificent Macey snatches silver

Devastated Edwards gets bronze

A sprint too far for Jones

Colin Jackson: Britain's golden boy

Dean Macey: The great unknown

El Guerrouj stuns Seville

Hansen flops in triple jump

Two disqualified over drugs

May quits after medals row

Injury wrecks Smith's medal dream

Jones fails in four-gold attempt

Lewis takes heptathlon silver