Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold ahead of Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and set a new World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
It took an absolutely amazing performance by Team USA to obliterate the third oldest World record for women which had been held by the Democratic Republic of Germany since the 6th of October 1985!
"It's an honour to be part of this team," said Felix who now holds three Olympic gold medals and could add to her tally in tomorrow’s 4x400m.
"Who would have thought that we would have had a world record tonight? It's amazing. Our names are going down in history."
In fact, the possibility of a new World record was in the air ever since the USA clocked a superb 41.64 in the first round heat having reserved their two fastest and most experienced sprinters for tonight’s final.
Bring in 200m Olympic champion Allyson Felix who has improved her 100m personal best to 10.89 this year, and 100m silver medallist Carmelita Jeter, the second fastest woman of all-time, add three of the smoothest relay exchanges and the result could be nothing but the best performance ever recorded.
With perfect conditions and one of the loudest audiences, team USA was led off by 26-year-old Madison, fourth in the individual 100m final six days ago who completely overshadowed none other than the two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who ran leg one for Team Jamaica. If Madison was already ahead of Fraser-Pryce, then something big was in the making.
The former World Long Jump champion turned sprinter, Madison made a perfect exchange with Felix, who had also covered the back straight when winning the Daegu World Championships last summer. It was just another perfect exchange between Felix and Knight who powered down the curve and entered the home straight well clear of Veronica Campell-Brown for Jamaica.
Once Jeter got hold of the baton – needless to say the exchange was close to perfection – it was just a question of how fast she would close and how much she would improve on the World record. As she crossed the line, Jeter knew she and her team-mates had made it into history and immediately pointed to the clock.
Jeter, who now has a full collection of medals from the London Olympics after her 100m silver and 200m bronze said: "I knew that these girls were going to run their hearts out. I knew we were running fast. I was already pointing at the clock, saying 'there it is'. There was a cloud hanging over us, with people saying 'they can't do this, they're going to drop the stick' but we did it."
The last time Team USA had won an Olympic 4x100m title was back in 1996, before they had to surrender a title that had been theirs on nine occasions previously to teams of Bahamas (2000), Jamaica (2004) and Russia (2008).
"It's a relief," said Felix about finally bringing gold to the US after a drought of 16 years. "When we went into this, we were the most comfortable I have seen this team. We were laughing and smiling and I have never seen the team like that.
"It was a combination of practice and being comfortable with each other. Everyone has been having fantastic years."
To give good measure of the magnitude of the performance, Jamaica was relegated to second at 41.41, a full 59 hundredths of a second behind the US and still a new National record for the team which also included Sherone Simpson (second leg) and Kerron Stewart (anchor).
There was also a national record 42.04 for Ukraine in third as the team picked their first ever Olympic medal in the history of this event.
The Jamaican quartet were quick to praise the effort of their arch-rivals. "I knew they would have to break the World record to beat us and they did," said Stewart. "They were excellent. We broke our national record but that shows how well the USA team did."
Fraser-Pryce, who will also return home with three Olympic medals was even bolder in her compliments: "The Americans were better than us. We have had enough celebrations in Jamaica already."
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
*pending the usual ratification procedures
- Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold ahead of Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and set a new World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
- New World Record of 40.82 for USA relay team: Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison of 40.82 after the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright