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Allyson Felix became the first woman to collect five athletics gold medals as defending champions the United States won the women’s 4x100m relay.
The US team of Tianna Bartoletta, Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie clocked 41.01 seconds, the second-fastest time ever after their world record set in London four years ago, to beat Jamaica on 41.36 and Great Britain on 41.77. They sailed through in the final despite the disadvantage of racing in the tightest lane, number one.
“It's very special. It's just a very unique experience. I am proud to look back on my career and appreciate what the sport of track and field has given me,” Felix said of her achievement of five golds, praising her team-mates for succeeding despite a challenging journey to the final. “We had fun out there. The adversity made us even more determined. We just kept fighting the whole way through.”
The Americans nearly missed out on a place in the final after Felix dropped the baton when handing over to Gardner in their heat on August 18. But she had been impeded by a Brazilian runner, and they went through after successfully appealing and being allowed to race by themselves in a solo heat. Felix has Olympic golds in the 200m and the 4x100m and 4x400m relays from 2012, and the 4x400m from 2008. She has a shot at another medal on August 20 in the 4x400m relay.
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson, running the second leg after Christania Williams, before handing over to Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, narrowly missed out on matching compatriot Usain Bolt's sprint treble after her victories in the 100m and 200m. She was delighted with silver: “It's been a wonderful experience, my first Olympic Games. Two golds, a silver, I can't complain.”
The British team of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita came third to take their country's first medal in the event since 1984. Asher-Smith said: “This means an awful lot. Not only have we been training since January as individuals, we've honestly worked hard and bonded as a team. Just to come out here when the pressure is really on, and deliver the goods, is absolutely incredible.”