NASSAU (Bahamas) • American sprinter Justin Gatlin struck 4x100m gold when he anchored his team to victory at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau on Saturday.
However, the battle between Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who has served two doping bans, and Andre de Grasse, labelled as retiring Jamaican star Usain Bolt's likely successor, did not play out. The Canadian was deprived of the chance to run his leg after a botched handover by his team-mates.
De Grasse, a triple medallist at the Rio Olympics, had cocked his head over towards Gatlin three times before turning on the afterburners to edge the American in the heats. But there was to be no showboating come the final at the Thomas A. Robinson stadium as Aaron Brown fluffed his handover to Brendon Rodney.
The US were not out of danger, with Britain looking to be ahead as Gatlin took the baton from Ronnie Baker after slick changes between Leshon Collins and Mike Rodgers. But Englishman Danny Talbot failed to hit his mark and Gatlin had a free run in for 38.43sec.
Barbados took silver at a distant 39.12 and China bronze (39.22).
"It's all about execution, not about superior speed," said Gatlin, who dubbed himself the "official track vampire" for his longevity.
"Britain and Canada didn't get the stick off (in the final) so I am running with 20 metres to the finish line wondering, 'Hey, where is everybody at?"
The 35-year-old added that the result was perfect, ahead of the August world championships in London.
"We wanted to prepare ourselves, saying let's have smooth handoffs, be as fast as we can for April," he said. "We want to come across the line first in August as we did tonight and we want to be as successful as possible."
Olympic champions Jamaica were not even in the final.
A botched baton exchange in the heats sent the Jamaicans, who were running without Bolt and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, packing.
They now need to post a top-16 qualifying time for the London worlds by July 23.
Only once since 2008 had Jamaica failed to claim gold in a global 4x100m race.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS