USA claim fifth 4x400m relay double

The United States men and women triumphed in the 4x400m relay for the fifth time, a record equalled by no other nation, as women’s anchor Allyson Felix won her sixth career gold.

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US women maintained their iron grip on the title when they held off Jamaica for their sixth straight victory. They finished in 3:19.06 as Courtney Okolo set the stage for the win by grabbing the lead in the opening leg. The US never relinquished it, pushed by Jamaica but well clear of the rest of the field.

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After team-mates Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis, anchor Felix took the baton. She held off a late challenge by Jamaica’s Novlene Wiliams-Mills to claim her third medal of the Rio Olympics, having won gold in the 4x100m relay and silver in the individual 400m. Jamaica setlled for silver in 3:20.34 and Great Britain took bronze in 3:25.88.

“It’s really special,” Felix said of her sixth Olympic gold. “I can look back on the things that I’ve accomplished and really be proud and really grateful for what track and field has brought to my life. This one wasn’t an individual medal and the great thing is I get to share it with these great friends. I am so blessed.”

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The US gold streak started at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Jamaica’s silver was their fifth straight medal in the event, following silver in 2000 and bronze in 2004, 2008 and 2012 while Britain claimed their first medal since 1992.

US men reclaim gold

LaShawn Merritt ran a blistering anchor leg to return the men’s 4x400m title to the United States and win his third Olympic gold medal in the final athletics event of the Rio Games. Arman Hall, Tony McQuay and Gil Roberts combined to give Merritt a two-metre lead. The former 400m Olympic and world champion extended that to seven to win in 2:57.30.

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“We really wanted to win this 4x400m. It didn’t go the way the boys wanted four years ago, we knew how important this was,” Merritt said. “Before I got the baton, I knew I had some mileage on my legs but I knew it was about the team and USA. I got down the backstretch well and opened it up a little coming home, I just wanted to keep it comfortable. I ran with a great group of guys, they made my job easy.”

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Javon Francis stormed down the final straight to give Jamaica silver in 2:58.16, while the Bahamas ran 2:58.49 to pip Belgium for bronze. The American men have never gone more than two Games without winning the 4x100m relay. After being upset by the Bahamas in London four years ago, they were determined to secure the title for a record 17th time.