Tyson Gay became only the third man to win three gold medals at one World Championships tonight as the United States regained the World 4x100m Relay title it last won in 2003, after a thrilling final.
Gay ran the third leg for the US quartet, meaning there was no repeat of the 100m showdown between Gay and the world record-holder Asafa Powell in the home straight.
By then Darvis Patton, Wallace Spearmon and, in particular, Gay, had given them a slender lead that proved unassailable, despite an almost fumbled exchange between Gay and Leroy Dixon, who brought the baton home in 37.78sec.
Gay joins his countrymen Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene as a three gold-winner at one championships. Lewis did it twice, winning 100m, long jump and relay in 1983 and 1987, while Greene took the sprint double and relay in 1999.
A brilliant anchor leg by Powell brought the Jamaicans from fourth at the last changeover to second, snatching the silver medal from Britain by just 0.01s in a national record 37.89.
Britain’s anchor, Mark Lewis Francis, had received the baton from 100m finallist Marlon Devonish level with the Americans, but Dixon proved too strong while Powell, still fourth with 20m to go, clawed back the deficit and dipped ahead of him on the line.
Brazil finshed fourth in 37.99, missing out on a medal by just 0.09s while the loudest roar of the week was saved for the Japanese team of Naoki Tsukahara, Shingo Suetsugu, Shinji Takahira and Nobuharu Asahara, who also ran a superb race to finish fifth in an Asian record 38.03.
It was always meant to be Jamaica versus US and so it proved, although the Jamaicans were playing catch up from the second change between Usain Bolt and Nesta Carter, which left Powell simply too much to do.
The Americans also had a bad change between Spearmon and Gay, but the double sprint champion still had the power in his legs to push the US into a winning position. Dixon, though, had to reach back and almost snatch the stick away from Gay before he could get into his running.
Britain, with a quartet containing two of its 2004 Olympic gold medallists, had much slicker baton changing and after Christian Malcolm and Craig Pickering had put them in contention, Devonish handed to Lewis Francis with a golden chance.
As Dixon stretched away for United States’ seventh gold in this event, it looked like Brazil’s Sandro Viana would be the one breathing down Lewis-Francis’s neck.
But Powell had other ideas. The big Jamaican turned on the power as he blasted past Viana and nipped ahead of the Briton on the line, just 0.11 behind the Americans.
Dixon was soon embraced by Gay and his teammates and the four sank to their knees for the customary team huddle. Powell made a point of shaking each of them by the hand. He had won his second medal of the championships and given Jamaica a second medal at this event to go with the bronze they won in 1987.
Britain’s bronze brought Devonish’s World Championships relay haul to four, more than any other athlete.
Osaka 2007 News Team/mkb