BERLIN - LaShawn Merritt raised the metallic blue baton high as he crossed the finish line, while Sanya Richards went with a simple flicking motion.
Both were fine ways to celebrate a gold medal. And the bottom line:
Both still had the stick in their hand at the finish.
The Americans got the baton around the track in the two finals yesterday, leading to a 4 x 400-meter relay sweep to close out the world championships.
The U.S. relays have had their share of foibles. This weekend at the worlds, the men's 4 x 100 team was disqualified for making an exchange outside the passing zone, and then the women's squad didn't finish after third-leg Muna Lee pulled up with a hamstring injury.
That came after the disappointments at the Olympics in Beijing last year, when the two sprint relay teams dropped the stick.
"We don't want to harp on it," Richards said. "I think sometimes if you put too much thought into it, it makes it too much of a challenge. We all know you get that stick and you have 400 meters to do whatever. We don't put too much emphasis on that handoff."
Two men, Merritt (400), Kerron Clement (400 hurdles), and two women, Allyson Felix (200) and Richards (400), each won a second gold medal at the championships in the relays.
Overall, Jamaica again dominated the Americans in the sprints. Jamaica won five of the six sprint events, the sweep interrupted only when Felix won her third straight world title in the 200.
The Americans topped the medal standings, winning 10 golds and 22 overall, four down from 2 years ago in Osaka, Japan, when the U.S. athletes won 26. Jamaica and Russia were next, each with 13 overall medals.
"Any other team in the world who had [our] kind of linescore would be going back to ticker-tape parades," said Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field.
And Usain Bolt picked up another honor yesterday, when he received a huge piece of the Berlin Wall after he set two more world records. He obliterated his marks in the 100 and 200, shaving .11 seconds off each. He also won another gold medal crown in the 400 relay.
"The world championships were an outstanding event for me," Bolt said.
"We're going to chase him and we're going to catch him," said Logan. "He may be 43 by the time we catch him, but we're going to catch him."
In other finals yesterday, American Brittney Reese won the women's long jump, and Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele used a furious kick down the stretch to unseat American Bernard Lagat as world champion in the 5,000. Lagat competed with four stitches near his left ankle after being stepped on in a preliminary round.
In a controversial final, Spain's Natalia Rodriguez was disqualified for pushing another runner to the ground in the women's 1,500, so the title went to Maryam Jamal, of Bahrain. That bumped U.S. runner Shannon Rowbury up to bronze.
But the 1,600 relays were two events that went exactly according to plan for the United States.