US women set 4x100 record
America’s women smashed a sprint relay record which had stood since 1985 last night, as Usain Bolt’s team-mates left him on the verge of more history at the London Olympics.
Bahamas shocked the United States in the men’s 4x400m relay, and Meseret Defar denied Ethiopian team-mate Tirunesh Dibaba a distance “double-double” when she won the 5,000m.
But America’s Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter snatched the limelight when they sliced more than half a second off East Germany’s 27-year-old 4x100m relay record, set during the drug-tainted era of the communist country’s state-sponsored doping regime.
The team, including 200m champion Felix, whirred seamlessly around the track to clock 40.82sec, topped off with an electric anchor leg by Jeter, who pointed the baton at the clock as she crossed well ahead of Jamaica.
Jeter, the 32-year-old who has become a leading sprinter late in life under the auspices of legendary coach John Smith, said she had no doubts about the ability of her three team-mates.
“I knew that these girls were going to run their hearts out,” said Jeter.
“I knew we were running fast. I was already pointing at the clock, saying ‘there it is’.
“There was a cloud hanging over us, with people saying ‘they can’t do this, they’re going to drop the stick’ but we did it.
“I knew that if we got the stick around then all I had to do was to bring it home.”
Usain Bolt’s dream of replicating his Beijing golden treble was kept alive yesterday as his team-mates coasted through to the final of the 4x100m relay with ease.
Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, double sprint silver medallist Yohan Blake and Kemar Bailey-Cole timed 37.39sec to win their heat from Canada.
Bahamas won the men’s 4x400m relay Olympic title timing a national record of 2mins 56.72sec for their first gold in the event.
The United States took silver in 2:57.05 while Trinidad and Tobago took bronze in a national record of 2:59.40.
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius’s hopes of an historic medal never looked likely as South Africa, who had only reached the final after appealing when they failed to finish their heat, finished eighth and last.
Asli Cakir Alptekin led a Turkish 1-2 when she held off Gamze Bulut to win the women’s Olympic 1,500 metres gold after delivering a powerful final lap in a tactical, bunched race.
Alptekin, who won the European title in Helsinki two months ago, served a two-year ban for doping after testing positive in 2004.
She looked powerful and strong, coming home in four minutes, 10.23 with Bulut second in 4:10.40.
Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain was third and American Morgan Uceny, who fell in the 2011 world championship final, tumbled again yesterday and beat the track in tearful frustration.
Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar won the women’s 5,000 metres in a time of 15 minutes 4.25 seconds.
Defar, the 2004 champion, overtook compatriot and 10,000 gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba in the home straight for victory.
Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot grabbed silver in 15.04.73 as Dibaba, Olympic champion in 2008, faded to finish third.
Russia’s Tatyana Lysenko, who watched the 2008 Olympics on TV while serving a two-year doping ban, won the women’s hammer gold with an Olympic record throw of 78.18 metres.
Lysenko, who won the world championship title last year, beat the old Olympic record of 76.34 set by Askana Miankova in Beijing with her first throw of the night, 77.56m, then improved it with her fifth.
Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland took silver with 77.60 and China’s Zhang Wenxiu a second successive bronze on 76.34.
Sophie Hitchon, a former ballet dancer, broke the British record in qualifying but struggled in the final and finished 12th.
In-form Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won Olympic pole vault gold after reigning champion Steve Hooker bowed out without clearing a single height.
Lavillenie claimed his first global outdoor title with a new Olympic record of 5.97m. German pair Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe took silver and bronze after both cleared 5.91m.