London, England (August 10, 2012)

Annihilating a world record that had stood for 27 years, the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter relay team on Friday night put on a dominant performance that put the U.S. atop the sprint podium for the first time since 1996. It was a night that also saw two other national records in the women’s 4x100, an American record in the men’s 4x100m rounds and a Team USA silver medal in a dramatic men’s 4x400 relay.

With nine event finals yet to be contested, Team USA’s medal count stands at 26, their highest Olympic medal tally since 30 in 1992.

World record in 4x100m

Coming off of first-round relay missteps in the last two Olympic Games, the U.S. women made up for that and more with a huge world-record win in the 4x100m. A strong leadoff by Tianna Madison (Sanford, Fla.) led to a race-breaking second leg by 200m gold medalist Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.). Bianca Knight (Austin, Texas) ran the same strong third-leg that she did at the 2011 World Championships, and 100m silver medalist Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.) brought it home in 40.82. A stride before the finish, Jeter pointed at the clock and roared at seeing the WR.

The race crushed the world record of 41.37 run by East Germany in 1985 as well as the American record of 41.47 set by Chryste Gaines, Marion Jones, Inger Miller and Gail Devers in 1992. The Jamaican team of 100m gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart was second in a national record of 41.41, and Ukraine was third, also in a national record, in 42.04.

Men’s 4x4 pulls together for silver

With the ranks of their relay pool decimated by injury, the U.S. put in a strong showing to take silver in the men’s 4x400 meters.

Chris Brown gave the Bahamas a slight lead over Team USA and Bryshon Nellum (Los Angeles, Calif.) after the first leg, an order that held through second legs by Demetrius Pinder and Josh Mance (Los Angeles, Calif.), respectively. Running an impassioned race, Tony McQuay (Gainesville, Fla.) moved into the lead 150 meters into the third leg, ahead of Michael Mathieu of the Bahamas by just over a stride at the final hand-off.

The anchor leg pitted two-time Olympic 400m hurdles gold medalist Angelo Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) against Ramon Miller. Angelo held off Miller until the final meters, when the Bahamas took the gold with a national-record time of 2:56.72. Team USA was second in 2:57.05, with Trinidad third in a national record of 2:59.40. Of the U.S. lineup, all but Taylor was a first-time Olympian; heading into the final, three of the original six relay pool members were injured since the Games began: 2008 400m gold medalist LaShawn Merritt (quad), 2004 400m gold medalist Jeremy Wariner (hamstring) and Manteo Mitchell (broken leg).

American record for 4x100 relay

The men’s 4x100m relay team of Jeff Demps, Darvis “Doc” Patton, Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin broke the American record in Friday night’s semifinal round, running 37.38 to break the previous record of 37.40, first run by Michael Marsh, Leroy Burrell, Dennis Mitchell and Carl Lewis at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.  At that time, the performance was a world record. The time was then matched at the 1993 World Championships by Jon Drummond, Andre Cason, Mitchell and Burrell. Jamaica won the other semifinal heat in 37.39.

More finals

The evening’s middle-distance events were studies in strategy. In the women’s 1500m, the pack came through 800m in a very slow 2:23.97.  Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco, Calif.) positioned herself next to the rail and ran in third place for most of the race, with Morgan Uceny (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) not far behind.

At the bell, Rowbury was fifth and Uceny sixth, but as soon as the bell lap began, Ucency appeared to be struck by the back-kick of the runner ahead of her and fell to the track in tears. Rowbury continued on to place sixth in 4:11.26. Turkey went 1-2 with Asli Alpetkin (4:10.23) and Gamze Bulut (4:10.40); Maryam Jamal of Bahrain was third in 4:10.74.

In the women’s 5,000m final, a conservative early pace led to an Ethiopian and Kenyan break-away. Meseret Defar of Ethiopia claimed the gold in 15:04.25, with Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya second in 15:04.73 and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia third in 15:05.15. Molly Huddle (Providence, R.I.) placed 11th in 15:20.29, and Julie Culley (Clinton, N.J.) was 14th in 15:28.22.

In the men’s pole vault final, Brad Walker (Mountlake Terrace, Wash.) missed at all three attempts at 5.65m/18-6.5 and did not record a mark.

Women’s 4x400 advances

The women’s 4x400m relay team of Keshia Baker (Los Angeles, Calif.), Francena McCorory (Hampton, Va.), Diamond Dixon (Lawrence, Kan.) and DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.) easily advanced the U.S. to Saturday’s final, winning their semifinal heat in 3:22.09; Jamaica won heat 1 in 3:25.13.

Team USA Medal Count - 26 total

Gold (8)

Women’s 4x100m relay (T. Madison, A. Felix, B. Knight, C. Jeter), 40.82WR

Ashton Eaton (Eugene, Ore.), MDEC, 8,869

Christian Taylor (Daytona Beach, Fla.), MTJ, 17.81m/58-5.25

Brittney Reese (Gulfport, Miss.), WLJ, 7.12m/23-4.25

Aries Merritt (Bryan, Texas), M110H, 12.92

Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.), W200, 21.88

Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.), WPV, 4.75/15-7

Sanya Richards-Ross (Austin, Texas), W400, 49.55

Silver (11)

Men’s 4x400m relay (Bryshon Nellum, Josh Mance, Tony McQuay, Angelo Taylor), 2:57.05

Trey Hardee (Austin, Texas), MDEC, 8,671

Will Claye (Imperial Beach, Calif.), MTJ, 17.62m/57-9.75

Jason Richardson (Los Angeles, Calif.), M110H, 13.04

Lashinda Demus (Palmdale, Calif.), W400H, 52.77

Leo Manzano (Austin Texas), M1500, 3:34.79

Dawn Harper (Los Angeles, Calif.), W100H, 12.37

Erik Kynard (Manhattan, Kans.) MHJ, 2.33m/7-7.75

Michael Tinsley (Round Rock, Texas), M400H, 47.91

Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W100, 10.78

Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.), M10,000m, 27:30.90

Bronze (7)

Janay DeLoach (Fort Collins, Colo.), WLJ, 6.89/22-7.25

Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W200, 22.14

Kellie Wells (Orlando, Fla.), W100H, 12.48

Justin Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.) M100, 9.79

DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.), W400, 49.72

Will Claye (San Diego, Calif.), MLJ, 8.12m/26-7.75

Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.), MSP, 21.23m/69-8

Team USA Quotes

Carmelita Jeter, women’s 4x100 relay:

“It feels great. We ran as a team. Everyone ran a great leg and we got that stick around and a gold medal and a world record.”

Allyson Felix, women’s 4x100 relay:

“It’s a relief – a joy. We went into it so comfortable. We were laughing. We were very comfortable in practice with each other.”

Tianna Madison, women’s 4x100 relay:

“I’m not surprised (on the gold medal) based on the first round and clean baton passes.”

Bianca Knight, women’s 4x100m relay:

“I’m happy to be part of a world-record and gold-medal relay in my first Olympics. After the first round, I knew the Olympic record was possible. We went out there and executed and got a world record.”

DeeDee Trotter, women’s 4x400 relay:

“I think Team USA – our expectations of being the #1 Track Team is what we all carried. We work hard as a country to maintain this. It’s what makes us have our USA pride. We want to be number  1 – not just on the podium but in the world.”

Diamond Dixon, women’s 4x400 relay:

“Sanya (Richards-Ross) told me to be aggressive. She said to stick it and just run with it and that’s what I did.

(on if she will run in the final): “I want the best thing for Team USA. I will run my heart out if I run.”

Keisha Baker, 4x400 relay:  “This is great.  It was my first time running the first leg.  My coach and teammates gave me comfort, gave me great support and that gave me great confidence.  The job was done.  I felt like we did our job tonight.”

Francena McCorory, 4x400 relay:

“My handoffs were great.  I felt like we did a smooth ride.  We’re ready to rock and roll. Everybody will give their best.  We’ll put our best team together tomorrow.”

Justin Gatlin, 4x100m:

“This was my first time running anchor ever, to win and to set the American record is special.  When we come together we can break records like we did today.”

Trell Kimmons, 4x100m:

“It’s a blessing that we made sure we had safe passes.  I look forward to the finals.  We wanted to prove to ourselves and to the world that we’re on track to put on a show tomorrow.”

Jeff Demps, men’s 4x100m relay:

“I just wanted to come out and have fun and enjoy the moment. There was no pressure, I was just excited.”

Doc Patton, men’s 4x100m relay:

“We will put the best four out there (finals). If I am part of it, I will run my hardest. If not, I will be their biggest cheerleader, pom poms, skirt and all.”

Bryshon Nellum, men’s 4x400 relay:

“Overall I felt good. This was my first experience and my first Olympic medal. Unfortunately we didn’t get the gold to continue the tradition, but we at least got some hardware to bring home to the United States. Everybody did their best and tried hard, and that’s all that mattered.”

Josh Mance, men’s 4x400 relay:

“We have always risen beyond injuries. We all have been injured but we all learn to come back.”

Tony McQuay, men’s 4x400m relay:

“I did my job for the day. I’m disappointed it wasn’t enough. The outcome is not what we wanted, our mission was gold. We got silver, but we have to be blessed with our opportunity today, because a lot of people don’t have this opportunity, and God selected us four people to come out here and run this relay.”

Angelo Taylor, Men’s 4x400m relay:

“I feel like we have the best 400m in the world, and we did take some hits this year. We lost a lot of guys...and we had a lot of young guys step up and help us get silver. Tony ran a phenomenal leg and got me where I wanted to be, which is the lead. I felt pretty good for 300, then normally I have the kick, but I tried to hit it...and I just didn’t have it today.”

Manteo Mitchell men’s 4x400 relay:

“I’m heartbroken. I really wanted the gold. You never know what I could have done. Everyone gave it their all. I am just grateful to be here. It’s not about me, it’s about this. A lot of people think this is an individual sport but it isn’t - it’s a team sport. We will be able to bounce back at World Championships. Next year, we will not lose.”

Shannon Rowbury, women’s 1500m: “I am disappointed of course. I was right there. I was getting really lucky throughout the race. I tried to go for it in the last 100 but didn’t quite get it.”

Molly Huddle, women’s 5,000m:

“I probably did not recover from the rounds. I did the best I could. I am happy I made the final. This year has been up and down for me. It was a great experience, still fun.”

Originally published by USA Track & Field (