U.S. women set a new world record in the 4x100 relay Friday, crushing their Jamaican rivals.
The star-studded American team – Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and anchor Carmelita Jeter – finished in 40.82 seconds, more than half a second faster than the prior world record of 41.37, set in 1985 by Germany.
The Jamaicans, including gold medal sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell Brown, finished second, in 41.41.
Ukraine won bronze, finishing in 42.04.
The Americans won after substituting Felix, who won gold this week in the 200m, and Jeter, who won silver in the 100m, into the lineup on Friday afternoon. It is common for track coaches to rest their best sprinters in qualifying relay races and insert them in finals.
The switch meant that Jeneba Tarmoh and Lauryn Williams did not run. The relay was Tarmoh's only Olympic event; she had a chance at the 100m spring, but withdrew from a dead-heat runoff against Felix at the U.S. Olympic trials.
The women's relay was followed by the men’s 4x400 relay, which the American team lost for the first time in 60 years. Bahamian anchorman Ramon Miller overcame American Angelo Taylor in the final 50 meters, and they finished at the 2:56.72 and 2:57.05 marks, respectively.
Trinidad and Tobago finished third, in 2:59.40. The South African team, anchored by “The Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius, came in last.
Team USA has dominated the 4x400m relay for many decades. The last time a non-U.S. team won the event was at the 1980 games in Moscow, which the Americans boycotted. In Munich in 1972, two Americans were disqualified and a third was injured, leaving Team USA without enough runners to compete. The last time the Americans lost was in Helsinki in 1952, when Jamaica beat them.
This year's team were hampered before the race began because they were missing two prior gold medal winners, LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Warnier, who were out with injuries.
Also on Friday, world-record holder Meseret Defar of Ethopia won the women's 5000m in 15 minutes, 4.25 seconds. Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya finished second and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia third.
Turkish women finished first and second in the women’s 1500m. The winner was Asli Cakir Alptekin n 4 minutes, 10.23 seconds, followed by teammate Gamze Bulut. Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain finished third.
Inside the track, Russian Tatyana Lysenko won gold in the women's hammer throw.
Renaud Lavillenie of France won the men's pole vault.