Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter team up to obliterate the world 4x100m record that had stood for 27 years
It was one of the oldest world records on the books, although you would not know it, given the way the USA obliterated the mark in tonight’s 4x100m final.
The US women not only won gold in great style, they broke the world record by 0.55 seconds, improving the East Germany’s 27-year-old mark to an almost unbelievable 40.82.
Tianna Madison lost hardly any ground on Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and they had a slightly better change over. On leg two Allyson Felix eased slightly ahead down the back straight from Sherone Simpson and again they had the better of the change overs. Bianca Knight could have been seen as a weak link but she actually went away from Veronica Campbell-Brown on leg three. Carmelita Jeter went away from Kerron Stewart on the anchor as to a tremendous roar, USA rewrote the record books.
Jamaica were a clear second in a national record 41.41, and only just missed the old world record, while Ukraine also ran faster than ever before to take bronze in 42.04.
Bahamas ended USA’s reign as the world’s top 4x400m nation to win their first ever global title in 2:56.72, moving to third on the world all-time lists. Ramon Miller had too much speed for Angelo Taylor down the straight and he timed 44.01. Of the other Bahamians Chris Brown ran 44.9, Demetrius Pinder a superb 43.5 and Micahel Mathieu 44.25.
The depleted USA team were second in 2:57.05 with good legs from Joshua Mance, who ran 43.5, and Tony McQuay, 43.41.
Some way back there was a dust up for third with Trinidad taking the honours in a national record 2:59.40 from Britain’s 2:59.53.
For Britain, Conrad Williams ran a solid opener of 45.2 – probably his best ever relay leg – and handed over in third ahead of Belgium’s Kevin Borlee. Hurdler Jack Green ran a good 44.6 and finished strongly before handing over to training partner Dai Greene.
But the world 400m hurdles champion produced the slowest split of the team with 45.53, perhaps not justifying his inclusion to the removal of Nigel Levine, and Britain handed over in fifth.
Martyn Rooney ran another superb anchor leg of 44.09 but could not catch Trinidad & Tobago, falling an agonising metre short of a bronze medal to match their Beijing position.
Meseret Defar regained her title from 2004 with a 60-second last lap as favourite Tirunesh Dibaba failed to win a record fourth individual, title despite a brave effort over the final mile.
Britain’s Jo Pavey was one of the early leaders and took the field through 3000m in 9:27.75. With just under a mile to go, Dibaba picked up the pace and only had her Ethiopian team-mates and the Kenyan trio for company as she reached the bell.
Whether it was tiredness from the 10,000m or the effects of the leading, Dibaba couldn’t respond in the home straight when first Defar and then double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot came past her.
Defar won by half a second in 15:04.25, marking a strong return to form having not won a major outdoor title since 2007.
Pavey outsprinted British team-mate Julia Bleasdale, 15:12.72 to 15:14.55, and they were again the leading Europeans as both exceeded all expectations in both races.
His winning vault wasn’t seen by too many as it happened during the last 20 seconds of a pulsating 4x400m final, but European champion Renauld Lavillenie won gold in the pole vault with a second-time clearance at an Olympic record 5.97m in a top class competition.
After leading early on, a failure at 5.91m dropped him to third behind German duo Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe, who both cleared the height first time. But Lavillenie was the only one to clear 5.97m, giving him the gold.
In equal fifth, Steve Lewis’s second-time clearance at 5.75m put him briefly in a share of the bronze medal before having two very good attempts at a British record 5.85m.
The women’s 1500m had an exciting finish but was a poor race generally as Turkish duo Asli Cakir and Gamze Bulut repeated their one-two finish from the European Championships.
Cakir, who has previously served a drugs ban, had the best sprint on the final lap and won in 4:10.23, closely followed by Bulut who came back again down the straight. Former world champion Maryam Jamal just beat another former world champion – and drugs cheat – Tatyana Tomashova to bronze.
The other joint favourite, Abebe Aregawi, accelerated too hard down the backstraight and she faded from second to fifth in the home straight.
The two British runners were never in a good position and lacked the finishing speed on this occasion. Lisa Dobriskey was a very disappointed tenth in 4:13.02, with Laura Weightman, in her first major final, 11th in 4:15.60.
USA’s Morgan Uceny, who fell in Daegu, fell again on the last lap and she punched the ground in frustration.
In the hammer, world champion Tatyana Lysenko – who was absent in Beijing because of a drugs ban – won gold in a top-class competition.
The Russian started well, opening with an Olympic record 77.56m which she improved to 78.18m in the fifth. European champion Anita Wlodarczyk won silver, improving to 77.10m and 77.60m in the last two rounds.
Zhang Wenxiu threw 76.34m which she thought had given her bronze but it was later found that world record-holder Betty Heidler’s fifth-round throw had been mismeasured. After the competition, officials found her original mark and remeasued it at 77.13m – good enough to take the bronze ahead of Zhang.
Britain’s Sophie Hitchon, who had done well to make the final after setting a national record in qualifying, was 12th with a respectable 69.33m.
In the women’s 4x400m heats, Jamaica won the first race easily in 3:25.13 with Ukraine and France also qualifying with plenty in hand.
The final looks a simple USA v Russia match up, and the teams – even though not at full strength – look a class apart. USA won the second heat in 3:22.09 from Russia’s 3:23.11. Britain showed they have a good chance of a bronze medal by being third fastest overall in finishing third, helped by a 50.61 leg from Christine Ohuruogu.
But the British relay demons came back to haunt the men in the heats of the 4x100m. Despite anchor leg runner Adam Gemili coming to a halt to take the baton, the team clocked a fast 37.93, but the baton was passed a few metres too late and the team were disqualified.
Jamaica – with a team that did not include Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell – won the first heat in 37.39, the second-fastest time in Olympic history and a UK all-comers’ record.
But it only lasted a few minutes as USA – anchored by Justin Gatlin – ran a national record of 37.38 to set up a thrilling final.