Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 20 – Allyson Felix became the first woman athlete with five gold medals as she powered the US sprint relay team to victory just a day after they had been brought back from the Olympic dead.
Felix, long jump gold medallist Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Tori Bowie, who won 100m silver and 200m bronze in Rio, combined to clock the second fastest 4x100m relay time ever run, in 41.01 seconds.
Only the gold-medal winning US team at the 2012 London Games has gone faster.
Jamaica finished second in 41.36sec, handing double sprint gold medallist Elaine Thompson a third Olympic medal, with Britain taking bronze in a national record of 41.77.
“It felt like we were really strong tonight. The adversity yesterday made us even more determined and we kept fighting the whole way through,” said Felix after the triumph late Friday in the Rio Olympic stadium.
The US team were forced into a solo re-run of their qualifier on Thursday, having overturned a disqualification for a dropped baton exchange between Felix and Gardner.
Replays showed that Felix had been knocked off-balance by Brazilian runner Kauiza Venancio as she prepared to hand off and they got another chance.
“I think yesterday proved that you never know what you’re going to get. But sometimes adversity makes you stronger. We each have had a rocky road here, a different journey, a unique experience and we just came together,” said Felix, whose team won gold from the highly unfavoured inside lane, with its tight corners.
“It was a crazy, freak accident what happened in the first round. We had to leave it with the authority,” she said.
“It’s really neat sharing with these special ladies. We had fun out there,” beamed Felix.
“I’m very proud to look back on my career and see what the sport of track and field has given me.
Bartoletta, whose two world long jump titles remarkably came 10 years apart, with a stint on the US bobsled team sandwiched in between, was delighted with her double gold.
“I’m extremely happy,” she said. “The journey to this point has been tumultuous. It’s special.”
Jamaica’s Thompson also had no complaints after adding to her double sprint titles.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, my first Olympic Games. Two golds, a silver, I can’t complain,” she said.
Felix’s fifth gold made her the female athlete to have won the most, having previously claimed golds in the sprint relay in London, and as part of the 4x400m relays in 2008 and 2012.
Her sole individual title came in the 200m in the British capital.
Felix also won silver in the 400m earlier this week, a feat that saw her become the most decorated female Olympian in US track and field history, breaking her tie with Jackie Joyner-Kersee, with a total of seven medals.
It was also a historic night for Jamaican veteran Campbell-Brown, who became the second athlete to win a medal in athletics at five Olympic Games after Merlene Ottey, her fellow Jamaican who switched allegiance to Slovenia late in her career.