Harvard sprinter rallied back from huge deficit, beat Olympian in crazy 4x400-meter relay

Harvard sprinter Gabby Thomas led the 4×400-meter relay team to an improbable win at the Ivy League Championships this weekend. (Twitter/HarvardTrack_XC)

The Harvard women’s 4×400-meter relay team wasn’t supposed to win at the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships on Sunday at the University of Pennsylvania.

Entering the last leg of the race, Gabby Thomas trailed Columbia by 2.8 seconds — about 30 meters. The Columbia team had dominated the whole race, and was anchored by 2016 Ghana Olympian Akua Obeng-Akrofi. And, to make things even tougher, Thomas was running in her fourth race of the day.

While she is certainly capable of winning the 4×400-meter relay, trailing an Olympian by nearly three seconds in the last leg doesn’t leave very good odds.

That, though, didn’t phase Thomas at all.


The junior kicked it into gear and slowly gained ground on Obeng-Akrofi, making for a tight final 100 meters before she finally edged — and we mean edged — Obeng-Akrofi at the finish line by just .04 seconds to win the relay. Thomas ran her final leg in just 49.44 seconds.

The win marked Thomas’ fourth of the day. She won the women’s 100-meter dash with a time of 11.27, was on the winning 4×100-meter relay team and set a meet record with her 200-meter dash win. Her performance over the weekend also earned her the Most Outstanding Track Performer award at the meet — clearly a well-deserved feat.


The Harvard women finished second overall in the meet with 114 points. Penn won the meet with a program-record 177 points.

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