- Allyson Felix wins another gold after US re-run their semi-final to qualify
- Young British team run national record; Jamaica take silver
Rio Olympics: Glory in the women’s 4x100m relay went to the United States, who ran the second fastest time in history, and particularly to Allyson Felix, who became the first female track and field athlete to win five gold medals. But the promise of a brighter dawn was also offered by Britain’s young team of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Asher-Smith and Daryl Neita, who ran a national record of 41.77 sec to take a well-deserved bronze behind the US (41.01) and Jamaica (41.36). It was Britain’s first women’s sprint relay medal in 36 years.
As a beaming Asher-Smith explained afterwards: “We have worked so unbelievably hard – we have had relay practice since January – so this means an awful lot because not only have we worked hard to get faster as individuals we have worked hard as a team. To be able to come out here and deliver the goods when the pressure is on and deliver the goods is absolutely incredible. I’m so unbelievably proud of all of these girls.”
Four years ago the British women’s 4x100m didn’t even qualify for the Olympics. And now they were celebrating a medal. As Henry put it: “At times we did feel that people had given up on us but as individuals we know that how talented British women’s sprinting has come along and each year we have got better and better.”
But was a night that will linger even longer in the memory for the US team, particularly as their team of Tianna Bartoletta, Felix, English Gardner and Torie Bowie had to re-run their semi-final heat alone on Thursday after originally being disqualified for dropping the baton – a decision that was overturned when TV replays showed they had been interfered with.
Few gave them much hope against the Jamaicans when they had to run the final in lane one, which appeared to be significant disadvantage. Yet a series of finely judged changeovers left the US team in control and Bowie was able to confidently bring home gold ahead of Jamaica’s Shelley-Anne Fraser-Pryce.
Afterwards Felix paid tribute to her team-mates, saying: “It’s really neat sharing with these special ladies. We had fun out there.” Bartoletta, who earlier this week also won the long jump, was also thrilled: “I’m extremely happy,” he said. “The journey to this point has been tumultuous. It’s special.”