It almost seemed a certainty that USA’s 4x100m team – which included three of the athletes who broke the world record to win Olympic gold in 2012 – would win at the IAAF/BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015.
But Jamaica had four global relay champions of their own on their team in the form of 2013 world 4x100m champion Schillonie Calvert, 2004 Olympic 4x100m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and 2009 world 4x100m champions Kerron Stewart and Simone Facey.
Neither team had the slickest of changeovers, but the Jamaican quartet made the fewest mistakes. After Tianna Bartoletta handed over to Allyson Felix with Kimberlyn Duncan running the third leg, the USA were level with Jamaica as Carmelita Jeter set out on the anchor leg.
But her leading margin wasn’t enough to hold off the closing speed of two-time Olympic champion Campbell-Brown, who caught Jeter with 50m remaining and crossed the line in a world-leading 42.14.
USA recorded a season’s best of 42.32 in second place, half a second ahead of Great Britain (42.84). Canada finished one hundredth behind Great Britain in fourth as three other teams – Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Nigeria – ran faster than 43 seconds.
Switzerland grabbed the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Bahamas just missed out on the final by one place. Anchored by 2001 world 200m champion Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie – whose first appearance in an IAAF competition was 20 years ago – they clocked 44.11 in their heat.
The then ran 44.14 in the ‘B’ final but were just caught on the line by world junior silver medallist Angela Tenorio, whose storming anchor leg moved Ecuador from fourth to first.
France and Germany failed to finish in the heats, while Japan were disqualified.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF