Americans extend medal count to 27 in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Tori Bowie is showing her true colors - bronze, silver and, now, gold.
''This completes my set,'' the sprinter said after anchoring the U.S. team to the title in the women's 4x100-meter Olympic relay Friday.
She's not the only one covered in medals. The United States heads into the final weekend of the Olympics with 27 medals in track and field, including 10 golds, and a legitimate shot to reach the coveted 30 mark.
Things have fallen the right way for the red, white and blue. Plenty more medals could be on the horizon, too, with Allyson Felix going for her sixth career Olympic gold medal when she runs in the 4x400 relay.
- The men's 4x400 team, led by LaShawn Merritt, is a virtual lock for a medal, assuming no baton drops.
- The women's high jump could prove lucrative, given that Chaunte Lowe is the favorite and teenager Vashti Cunningham is a rising force.
- The men's 1,500-meter race has a medal contender in Matthew Centrowitz.
It's a long way from eight years ago in Beijing, when a 23-medal effort led leadership at USA Track and Field to spearhead ''Project 30,'' with the goal of hitting that mark. It could be better than London four years ago, when the Americans brought home 29 medals. And it's miles better than last year at the world championships, when the United States only won 18.
Nobody panicked. A year later, success has become contagious.
''When you're seeing your team is going out there and setting the pace and bringing back medals to the village, the atmosphere speaks for itself,'' said Tony McQuay, a member of the 4x400 relay. ''Just sitting around and waiting, it starts to overwhelm you. That moment that you get to have your chance is when you try to show the world you're just as great and keep the standard going.''
Even when things don't go well, for the most part, they turn out all right. When the U.S. was knocked out of the women's 4x100 after dropping the baton, it appealed to get back in, ran a one-team race against the clock and earned a spot. The team made the most of a second chance by winning gold Friday.
''It's fun to be able to share that story, that crazy story, with these other ladies,'' said Tianna Bartoletta, who added that gold with the one she took in the long jump.
Courtney Okolo has been watching in a lounge at the Olympic Village. She'd been raring to go, waiting all week for Friday to roll around to run in the 4x400 relay team. The Americans advanced easily to the final.
While waiting, she'd been watching her suitemates come home with medal after medal. Then again, she has some pretty powerful roommates - Nia Ali, who was second in the hurdles, and Bowie, who also took silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200.
''I've done nothing but watch my teammates win gold, win silver, win bronze, win a medal,'' Okolo said. ''I've been surrounded by so much success. It's been motivating.''
Not everything has gone the way of the Americans. In the men's 4x100, the team captured bronze and were making their way around the track when they found out they were disqualified.
Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin were ruled to have passed the baton outside the first passing zone of an event won by Usain Bolt and Jamaica. After the disqualification, the bronze went to Canada.
It was the latest chapter in a series of mishaps for the Americans in the 4x100 relay at major championships.
''It has to be the worst luck for this country ever,'' said Tyson Gay, who ran third leg. ''It's always something weird, stupid, simple, mistakes that always cost us and I don't understand.
''I couldn't even shed a tear I was so shocked.''
Still, barring a strange set of circumstances, the Americans could wind up with the highest total since the team had 40 at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where the Soviet Union didn't compete.