Such is the American might at quarter-miling, the 4x400m men’s relay is about as close as you can get to a sure thing.
When the athletics programme came to its conclusion with the traditional relays at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the United States boasted a formidable record in the event.
They had failed to capture gold just twice since 1952; once in the 1980 Moscow boycott, the other in 1972 when two of their nominated athletes were banned from further competition after talking on the victory podium as the Star Spangled Banner was being played.
The trio of Steve Lewis, Butch Reynolds and Danny Everett had completed a clean sweep of the medals in the individual event and it seemed that only a baton drop or a technical infringement could stop them.
Everett and Lewis led out the quartet and by the time the individual champion handed the baton to Kevin Robinzine the Americans were almost half the final straight clear.
Butch Reynolds’ lap turned out to be a race against the clock.
Reynolds, in his distinctive languid, head-pumping style, extended the lead further and finally crossed the line with the stadium display showing a time of 2mins 56.17secs.
It was one hundredth of a second behind the world record which had stood since the Americans stormed to victory in the rarefied air of Mexico City 20 years earlier.
Officials shaved off the crucial 100th for the confirmed time and a share of the world record was theirs.