In those two years, it was a Canadian quartet anchored by Donovan BAILEY who stole their thunder, and this year the British foursome of Christian MALCOLM, Darren CAMPBELL, Marlon DEVONSIH and Dwain CHAMBERS were expected to push them close. They did, Chambers losing the gold medal on the line as USA's anchor JJ JOHNSON dipped ahead by two hundredths of a second, 38.06 to 38.08.
This is the only time except 1995 that the final has been won in a time outside 38 seconds. Brazil took its first ever bronze at this event, in 38.26, their previous best being fourth in 1999.
The individual 200m champion John CAPEL gave the US a great start, in lane six, with Malcolm chasing hard. But the first US change wasn't brilliant and Britain made up ground as Campbell ran a blistering back straight against Bernard WILLIAMS to give Devonish a slight lead, despite a poor change. Campbell followed his team mate round the bend but then fell to the track with an injured right hamstring near the 100m start.
Devonish maintained the advantage on the turn while Brazil's Andre Domingos da SILVA made up ground on his inside, and USA's Darvis PATTON kept his team in touch. Chambers, fourth in the individual 100m, looked like he would make his lead count, pulling away in the first few strides from the two chasing men either side of him ' Johnson to his right, and Claudio Roberto SOUZA to his left.
But Johnson wouldn't give up, and in the last 10 metres, as Chambers felt the pressure and tightened, the American edged ahead for the gold, leaving Britain with a silver to add to the one they won in 1999, and the two bronzes from 1991 and 1997.