United States reclaim men's 4x400m title

Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:32pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - LaShawn Merritt ran a blistering anchor leg to return the men's 4x400m title to the United States, and win his third Olympic gold medal, in the final athletics event of the Rio Games on Saturday.

Before Matthew Centrowitz's shock victory in the 1,500m earlier in the evening, the American men had been limited to one gold medal on the Rio track through Kerron Clement in the 400 meters hurdles.

The U.S. have never gone two Games without winning the men's one-lap relay, however, and after being upset by the Bahamas in London four years ago, were determined to secure the title for a 17th time.

Arman Hall, Tony McQuay and Gil Roberts combined over the first three laps to give Merritt a two meter lead and the former 400m Olympic and world champion extended that to seven to win in two minutes, 57.30 seconds.

"This was about Team USA, a great bunch of guys that I work with," said Merritt.

"The guys made it easy for me. We wanted this gold, I've been running a lot but I was going to give that anchor leg all I had. Every man did his job and we're bring that gold back to the U.S."

Javon Francis stormed down the final straight to give Jamaica the silver in 2:58.16, while the Bahamas ran 2:58.49 to pip Belgium, who ran a national record 2:58.52, for bronze.

"I have only good feelings," said Francis. "I said to myself 'Usain Bolt did it' so I need to work for a medal."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 4 x 400m Relay Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. LaShawn Merritt (USA) of USA compete.  REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi