RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A day after a near-disaster with a dropped baton, defending champions the United States made no mistake on Friday when they won the women’s Olympic 4x100 meters relay and Allyson Felix became the first woman to collect five athletics gold medals.
The U.S. team of Tianna Bartoletta, Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie clocked 41.01 seconds, the second-fastest time ever after the U.S. world record set in London four years ago, to beat Jamaica on 41.36 and Britain on 41.77.
“It’s very special. It was great to join these women tonight. It’s just a very unique experience,” Felix said of her milestone.
“The adversity yesterday made us even more determined. We just kept fighting the whole way through,” she said, referring to the ‘crazy freak accident’ in the Thursday morning heats when the baton dropped to the ground as she handed over to Gardner.
The Americans appealed successfully, arguing that Felix had been impeded by a Brazilian runner, and went through at China’s expense after being allowed to race by themselves in a solo heat in the evening.
They sailed through in the final despite the disadvantage of racing in the tightest lane, number one, fueled by determination not to repeat Thursday’s mishap.
“It really made us focus and buckle down on executing the race,” Bartoletta said.
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, running the second leg after Christania Williams before handing over to Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, narrowly missed out on matching compatriot Usain Bolt’s sprint treble after her victories in the 100 and 200.
“Wonderful experience. My first Olympics. Two golds, a silver, I can’t complain,” she said.
The British team of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita came third to take their country’s first medal in the event since 1984.
Felix had previously won golds in the 200m and the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in 2012, and the 4x400 in 2008, and was narrowly denied in the 400 earlier this week when Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas defeated her with a desperate dive for the line.
She has a shot at another medal on Saturday in the 4x400 relay.
Additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Greg Stutchbury