Jamaica successfully defended their 4x100m relay title with surprise challengers Japan taking silver. Usain Bolt finished his brilliant Olympic career with a sweep of the three sprint golds in Rio.
Two days before his 30th birthday, Bolt ran the anchor leg as the Jamaicans won in 37.27 to add the relay gold to his 100m and 200m titles. Former world record holder Asafa Powell, Bolt's training partner Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade gave him the narrowest of leads at the final exchange. That was always going to be enough and Bolt powered down the straight to finish five metres clear of Japan's Aska Cambridge. Canada took bronze after the United States were disqualified.
Bolt was in high spirits and full of praise for his team-mates: “I told the guys, ‘don’t give me too much work to do, make it easy’. And they did exactly that, I had no work to do, just to run to the line. As soon as I got the baton, I knew I was going to win this one, because there’s no-one on the anchor leg that can outrun me. I love competing with the team because it is an individual sport and you're always by yourself.”
“I’ve proven to the world I’m the greatest so I’m just happy. This is my last Olympics. It’s a relief but I'm also sad I have to leave. I'm definitely going to miss the crowd and the energy and just the competition. I love competing. It's just so many different feelings I'm feeling.”
Ryoto Yamagata ran a blistering opening leg for Japan, who won a stunning silver for their first Olympic medal in the sprint relay in 37.60, improving the Asian record they set in qualifying. None of the four Japanese men — Aska Cambridge, Yoshihide Kiryu, Ryota Yamagata and Shota Iizuka — have run 100m under 10 seconds, nor got a sniff of an individual Olympic final. The Japanese stood out with their perfect baton changes, which they have worked on since March.
“This is fantastic. This is really fantastic,” said Cambridge, who has been nicknamed ‘the Japanese Bolt’ due to his speed and Jamaican heritage. “I'm really proud to have been part of a team in Japan. The best moment is to win a medal with such great colleagues.”
Canada were elevated to bronze after the US were disqualified along with Trinidad and Tobago. The American relay team thought they were settling for bronze in 37.62, the first time they had failed to finish in the top two when they started a final, but Trayvon Bromell stepped into Bolt's lane in the run to the line, resulting in disqualification.
Canada’s run of 37.64, a national record, gave Andre de Grasse his third medal of the Games after his bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200m. De Grasse teamed Akeem Haynes, Brendon Rodney and Aaron Brown.
“We ran a great race,” said DeGrasse. “We set a national record. I think Japan surprised us a little bit to see them up there. But congrats to them for their performance. Next time around we will just try to get better.”