U.S. women break 27-year-old world record to win Olympic gold in the 4×100-meter relay


August 11, 2012

Carmelita Jeter anchored the United States on Friday night to its first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 4×100-meter relay since 1996.

August 11, 2012

Carmelita Jeter anchored the United States on Friday night to its first Olympic gold medal in the women’s 4×100-meter relay since 1996.

The U.S. women celebrate world record time in the 4×100 relay by posing with the clock.

LONDON — The black baton, emblazoned with the London Olympics logo above the Games’ interlocking rings, slipped from hand to hand, seamless in its single revolution around the track. Assigned to Team USA, the stick touched each runner’s hand in the 4×100 relay, but it glistened brightest when Carmelita Jeter, blistering down the straightaway in electric yellow spikes, completed the race’s gilded leg. She employed it as a pointer, reaching toward the clock as she set a world record in 40.82 seconds.

“We were so at peace,” Jeter said.

History greeted the foursome at the finish. Jeter, Allyson Felix, Tianna Madison and Bianca Knight, a unit that ran together during the Penn Relays in April, collected the Americans’ first win in the event since 1996, clipping more than a half-second off the previous best of 41.37 run by East Germany in 1985. The foursome also overcame memories of  Beijing, where the baton was dropped and Team USA endured embarrassments in both the men’s and women’s 100-meter relays. A comprehensive review was conducted, and Friday, the women’s efforts to improve came to fruition.

“We were laughing and smiling,” said Felix, who won gold in the 200 meters earlier in the meet and raced the relay in Beijing.

“We were never like that before.”

Not all came up gold. The American men running the 4×400 — an event they had won in every Games since 1984 — had no such familiarity, and faded in the end, unable to stave off the Bahamas down the backstretch. The lineup — Angelo Taylor, Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance and Tony McQuay — was pieced together due to injuries dating back to the U.S. trials and as late as the semifinal during which Manteo Mitchell broke his leg. Baton passage proved to be a non-issue, but Taylor, the group’s elder at 33, felt his hamstrings tighten up in the anchor leg. He lost the lead to Ramon Miller in the last 50 meters.

The Bahamas won in 2 minutes, 56.72 seconds, .33 ahead of the U.S.

Meanwhile, the surreal nature of setting a world record took time for the women to absorb. Eyes widened as they recognized their feat. Felix looked at the scoreboard, and the numbers did not compute at first.

She then realized it was below world-record time.

“For so long the record was out of reach,” Felix said. “You look up and it’s just crazy.”

Whether silver or gold, Team USA added to its tally throughout the night. “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been in heavy rotation at Olympic Stadium, played from the loudspeakers nearly as much as the rotation of warmup songs. The Americans have laid claim to 26 medals in track and field, picking up on the medal-count relay sparked by the U.S. swimmers last week.

The notes played again Friday for the women, dressed in their gray track suits and bowing their heads for the gold medals to be hung around their necks. The men, meanwhile, were going through the motions in their celebratory lap. They had been reluctant to wear their nation’s flags around their shoulders as silver-medal winners, but eventually did so. Just as the women had in Beijing, the men vowed for redemption once the next Olympics commence. A new relay was begun.

“We’ll try to redeem and get gold back in U.S. hands,” Mance said.


American Manteo Mitchell, standing on crutches, his left leg in a protective boot, watched the 4×400 relay Friday night at the end of the darkened tunnel, just off the track surface. A day earlier, he had suffered a clean break of his fibula halfway through his lap.

“Every step that I took felt like jello,” he said.

Mitchell, who will need 4-6 weeks to recover, acknowledged that he contemplated stopping but pulled through for his teammates, who went on to claim silver in the final.

“A lot of people from the outside looking in think it’s an individual sport, but we’re out here fighting for our country,” he said.


Americans were not immune from disappointment Friday. In the women’s 1,500 meters, Morgan Ucney fell heading into the final lap as she appeared primed to make a move. She slammed both hands on the track twice, and remained down until after the race finished.

“I heard a big ‘splat’ at 400 to go,” said teammate Shannon Rowbury, who finished sixth. “I think I could tell it was Morgan.”

It was an eerie replay of last year’s world championships in Daegu, where Ucney also fell. She did not speak with reporters afterward.     — Armstrong

Courtesy: NY Daily