Felix fulfils haul of fame

English Gardner passing the baton to Tori Bowie during the United States' 4x100m victory on Friday.
English Gardner passing the baton to Tori Bowie during the United States' 4x100m victory on Friday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
The victorious team of English Gardner, Allyson Felix, Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie.
The victorious team of English Gardner, Allyson Felix, Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie.PHOTO: REUTERS

Decisive relay victory after heats heartbreak earns her a place in Olympic, US history

RIO DE JANEIRO • Allyson Felix became the first woman athlete with five Olympic gold medals as she powered the US sprint relay team to victory, just a day after they had been brought back from the realm of the Olympic dead.

Felix, long jump gold medallist Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Tori Bowie, who won the 100m silver and 200m bronze in Rio, combined to clock 41.01sec, the second-fastest 4x100m relay time ever run, on Friday.

Only the US team that won the gold medal at the 2012 London Games went faster (40.82).

Jamaica finished second in 41.36sec, handing double sprint gold medallist Elaine Thompson a third Olympic medal, with Britain taking bronze in a national record of 41.77.

"It felt like we were really strong tonight. The adversity yesterday made us even more determined and we kept fighting the whole way through," said Felix after the triumph.

CHANGE OF FORTUNES

Sometimes adversity makes you stronger. We each have had a rocky road here, a different journey, a unique experience.

ALLYSON FELIX, reflecting on the turnaround after the US relay squad had dropped their baton in the heats.

The US team were forced into a solo re-run of their qualifier on Thursday, having successfully appealed against a disqualification for a dropped baton exchange between Felix and Gardner.

Felix had been knocked off balance by Brazilian runner Kauiza Venancio as she prepared to hand off and they earned another chance despite China, who were denied a place in the final in the process, claiming that the US team were to blame for the dropped baton.

"I think yesterday proved that you never know what you're going to get. But sometimes adversity makes you stronger. We each have had a rocky road here, a different journey, a unique experience and we just came together," said Felix, whose team won gold from the inside lane, with its tight corners.

"It was a crazy, freak accident, what happened in the first round. We had to leave it with the authorities. It's really neat sharing with these special ladies. We had fun out there.

"I'm very proud to look back on my career and see what the sport of track and field has given me."

Bartoletta, whose two world long jump titles remarkably came 10 years apart, with a stint on the US bobsleigh team sandwiched in between, was delighted with her double gold.

"I'm extremely happy," she said. "The journey to this point has been tumultuous. It's special."

Jamaica's Thompson was delighted after adding to her sprint double. "It's been a wonderful experience, my first Olympic Games. Two golds, a silver, I can't complain," she said.

The 30-year-old Felix entered the Rio Games as one of six women with four Olympic gold medals in track and field, having claimed the sprint relay in London and the 4x400m relays in 2008 and 2012, with her sole individual title earned in the 200m during the London Olympics.

In addition to the US victory in the 4x100m in Brazil, her three silvers - the 400m in Rio and the 200m in both Athens and Beijing - give her an overall Olympic tally of eight medals, breaking her tie with former US star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who has a total of seven medals.

It was also a historic night for Jamaican veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown, who became the second athlete to win medals in athletics at five Olympic Games after Merlene Ottey, her fellow Jamaican who switched allegiance to Slovenia late in her career.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline 'Felix fulfils haul of fame'. Print Edition | Subscribe