NOTE: Due to disqualification(s) resulting from anti-doping rule violation(s) the result of this competition has changed: see official results here.
Closing out the athletics action on the track at London’s Olympic Games, Jamaica broke the World record* in the men’s 4x100m relay tonight at Olympic Stadium.
Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, double silver medallist Yohan Blake and double-double Olympic champion Usain Bolt smashed through the event’s 37-second barrier to stop the clock in 36.84, breaking the previous mark of 37.04 set by the same quartet and running in the same order at the World Championships in Daegu one year ago.
Seemingly speaking for the capacity crowds that have filled the Olympic Stadium for the past eight days, Bolt said, "It's always a beautiful feeling to end off like this. We did it last year in the World Championships. For me it is a wonderful feeling."
But unlike in Daegu, the Jamaican foursome had a strong race on their hands, pushed to the line by an inspired U.S. quartet.
Trell Kimmons lead off for team USA, handing over a slight edge to Justin Gatlin, who in turn cushioned that lead running against Frater.
But Blake ate up that gap on the third leg, and eventually ran about even with Tyson Gay by the end of the leg, leaving Bolt to tangle with U.S. anchor Ryan Bailey. The latter ran admirably against the double Olympic champion, but after about half a dozen strides, Bolt pulled away for good. The only barrier left was the 37-second mark which Bolt managed to simply smash.
"The team came out and gave their all," said Bolt, who upped his lifetime Olympic gold medal tally to six. "I knew a World record was possible." So did teammate Carter.
"We got a lot of practice this year so I was expecting a fast time, and 36.84 is a fast time."
"We ran as a team and we handled the pressure pretty well," Blake said. "For me, two silvers and a gold medal is a wonderful feeling. Usain Bolt has been motivating me all along – it has been great."
Casting aside the ghosts of past relay disasters, the U.S brought the baton around in 37.04, equalling the previous World mark to break the national record for the second time in as many days.
"We did a great job and next year we’re going to do an even better race," said Gatlin, whose 100m bronze was the only short dash medal Jamaica did not claim at these Games.
"As soon as the gun went off, I was ready for the stick to get to me," said Bailey, a finalist in the 100m earlier this week. "I ran for my life. It was a great effort. We can’t be upset."
Trinidad and Tobago, the silver medallists four years ago, took bronze this time around in 38.12 following the disqualification of Canada who initially clocked 38.07.
France, last year’s World Championships bronze medallists, were fourth in 38.16, well ahead of Japan (38.35) and The Netherlands (38.39) who in turn edged Australia (38.43).
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
*pending the usual ratification procedures