RIO DE JANEIRO — The United States’ Tori Bowie crossed the finish line 0.35 seconds ahead of Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to secure gold in the women’s 4x100-meter relay on Friday.
The squad—comprised of Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, Olympic 400-meter silver medalist Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Bowie—became the first American team to win back-to-back relay titles since the U.S. won in 1992 and 1996.
The United States successfully defended its title from 2012 Olympics in London, where Felix and Bartoletta were part of a quartet that set a world-record time of 40.82. The Rio time of 41.01 is now the second fastest in the history of the race.
“The Beast came out today,” Gardner said. “I knew I had a job to do on that third leg. I always try to say that I want to make Allyson’s job a lot easier since she runs so many events. I knew Tianna was going to get out there and catch as many people as she could. I knew Jamaica also had a very strong team. I knew by the time it got me, I would have silver and gold in my hands. My job was to clean the rest of it up and give the baton to Tori in the lead. Once I was running on the turn, I remember passing a few people and getting to Tori and thinking, ‘Oh that was quick.’ I passed the baton and she brought it home.”
Friday night’s victory comes just one day after a botched handoff in the semifinal resulted in a protest of the results as Brazil’s relay team stepped out of its respective lane and caused contact with Felix before she passed off the baton. The United States finished in last but protested the results before winning the appeal. A solo re-run took place in which the United States ran 41.77 for the second-fastest time of 2016 and advanced to the final.
"I think yesterday proved that you never know what you’re going to get but sometimes adversity makes you stronger,” Felix said. “We’ve each had a rocky road here with different journeys and a unique experience. We just came together and wanted to keep going."
The United States’ medal count is now at 26 medals with 10 gold, eight silver and eight bronze. The medal collection also grows for Felix, who now owns eight Olympic medals. The 4x100-meter gold medal is the fifth in her career, which is the most ever by a female track and field athlete. She is now second on the all-time list in track and field behind Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey, who won nine Olympic medals from 1980 to 2004. Felix can tie Ottey with a medal in the women’s 4x400-meter relay, which will be contested on Friday.
Track and field concludes at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow with the women’s high jump, men’s javelin, men’s 1,500 meters, women’s 800 meters, men’s 5,000 meters and the 4x400-meter relays.