Australia finish last in women’s 4x400m final at Rio Olympics

Rio de Janeiro:  They are looking for a team nickname, and considered calling themselves “The Sheilas”.
Nanjing Night Net

And while they may not be “Golden Girls” yet, Australia’s youthful 4x400m team hope their appearance in the Rio Olympics final is the first of many, even if their showing this time was somewhat underwhelming.

Having scraped the final by the skin of their teeth, the combination of Jess Thornton, 18, Anneliese Rubie, 24, Caitlin Sargent-Jones, 24, and Morgan Mitchell, 21, failed to make a dent at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night. Despite strong legs from Mitchell and Rubie, Australia finished last in the eight-team field.

On a night when they received the medals controversially won a night earlier in the 4x100m relay, the US retained their 4x400m crown for a sixth consecutive Games, holding off Jamaica to claim gold. Great Britain were a distant third. But aside from the US and Jamaica, the final was a relatively sluggish affair. The Americans won in 3:19.06, with Jamaica posting 3:20.34. The Britons could muster just 3:25.88, with Australia getting home in 3:27.45. It was nearly two seconds slower than they had run the previous night to qualify. Had they recorded their heats time of 3:25.71 in the final, Australia’s team of Olympic debutants would have taken an unlikely bronze medal.

As such the ambitious Mitchell was slightly frustrated, if still glad to have been part of the first Australian team to make the final in 16 years.

“[I’m] a bit disappointed on the time but we’ve worked so hard just to get to the Olympic final, and to be able to label ourselves Olympic finalists is pretty cool,” Mitchell said.

“But we know we’ve got a lot to work on in the coming years.

“At the end of the day it is what it is. It’s quite exciting knowing we were that close and that we’re still very young.”

Rubie was more upbeat, looking forward to next year’s world championships and the prospect of a Commonwealth Games gold medal on the Gold Coast in 2018.

“We’re very proud of each other,” Rubie said.

Rubie also joked about the team’s social media-driven search for a moniker. “Our favourite one was the ‘Sugar Gliders’ just because it was so bad,” she said.

“We were thinking ‘The Sheilas’ maybe just to take the piss out of it!”

The US win provided a sixth Olympic gold medal for Allyson Felix, further extending her lead as the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history.

The last time Australia made the final of the event – in 2000 – Nova Peris-Kneebone, Tamsyn Lewis, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Cathy Freeman came fifth in an Australian record time.

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