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Poland stuns in inaugural 4x400 mixed relay as favored Americans claim bronze

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Poland pulled off a stunner to win gold in the inaugural 4x400 mixed relay at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, fending off silver medalist Dominican Republic and the favored U.S. team, which won bronze. 

Karol Zalewski, Natalia Kaczmarek, Justyna Swiety-Ersetic and Kajetan Duszynski secured the victory with a winning time of 3:09.87 in the event featuring two men and two women on each team.

The Dominicans led the race early and through the start of the anchor leg. But Duszynski took the lead after the final turn and pulled away down the stretch as American Vernon Norwood and Dominican Alexander Ogando gave chase. Ogando just edged Norwood at the line to post a time of 3:10.21 for the Dominicans. USA finished with a time of 3:10.22.

Poland's celebrate winning the mixed 4x400m relay final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
Poland won the first ever mixed 4x400 Olympic gold medal on Sunday. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

USA goes with different lineup in final

The Americans replaced the lineup from their preliminary race with Trevor Stewart, Kendall Ellis, Kaylin Whitney and Vernon Norwood.

The preliminary lineup of Lynna Irby, Taylor Manson, Bryce Deadmon and Elija Godwin —won its prelim in 3:11.39, the fastest among any team at the Games at the time.

Americans reinstated after prelim DQ

The U.S. team nearly didn’t make it to the final race after an initial disqualification from their preliminary heat.

They won the first preliminary heat of the Games — which marked the very first race of its kind in the Olympics — but were later disqualified after an exchange zone foul on the first handoff from Godwin to Irby.

Irby was lined up outside of the legal exchange zone to receive the baton, and about 20 meters down the track from the start of the exchange zone instead.

“We come out, we try our best and it was a complete surprise to all of us,” Godwin said.

The team appealed the decision, as it said that an official lined Irby up in the wrong position. Former American sprinter Michael Johnson, who is a BBC Sports commentator, said he and others noticed that officials lined up other runners incorrectly in other heats, too.

The team was reinstated Friday after race footage confirmed the official had made a mistake.

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