Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt on Friday night achieved his “triple-triple” title when he anchored Jamaica to victory in the 4×100m relay.
The victory which came two days before his 30th birthday also marked Bolt’s ninth gold medal in three successive Olympic games.
Bolt who has already won the 100m and 200m gold medals at the Rio Olympic games, anchored the Jamaican quartet of Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade to victory in 37.27 seconds.
I am just just happy, proud of myself. It's come true. The pressure is real. I look at it as an accomplishment.
The Jamaicans had been favourites to win the race but Bolt said it was not a foregone conclusion.
“I am just relieved. … I am just just happy, proud of myself. It’s come true. The pressure is real. I look at it as an accomplishment,” the UK Telegraph quotes Bolt as saying after the race.
But the race was not without some surprises. The first came from the Japanese quartet of Ryota Yamagata, Shota Iizuka, Yoshihide Kiryu and Aska Cambridge.
Japan raced to their first ever Olympic sprint medal in 37.60 seconds snatching the silver medal in a race traditionally not considered their forte.
Ryota Yamagato and Aska Cambridge who were both semi finalists in the 100m which bolt won, powered the Japanese to their historic win.
Team USA which had veteran athletes Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin came third in the race with a time of 37.62 seconds. But their victory was short-lived as they were disqualified.
NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 20, 2016
Mike Rodgers who was on the starting blocks for the Americans was penalized for changing the baton with Gatlin who ran the second leg outside the take-over zone.
But the information about their disqualification however took a while thus allowing Rodgers, Gatlin, Gay and Bromell who anchored to go on a victory lap, and even pause to acknowledge the Kenyan anthem which was played for 5000m winner Vivian Cheruiyot before the information filtered through to the stadium which at that point was being emptied of its spectators.
USA Track and Field, the body that governs the sport in America immediately filed an appeal against the disqualification, USA Today reports.
The athletes however seem to be divided over the ruling after American broadcaster NBC showed them the tape.
“(Gatlin) never got the stick until he was inside the zone. You can see that on the tape,” Rodgers said.
But Gatlin on the other hand said: “Looking at it, it seemed like I didn’t have full possession of the stick going into the zone. It looked like (Rodgers) still had his hands on the stick.”
This is not the first time the USA relay team has been disqualified in the 100m event. They have been disqualified for either dropping the baton or passing it outside the zone in four of the last six games before Rio.
The male relay team was disqualified in Beijing (2008) and London (2012) whiles the female team has suffered a similar fate in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).
The disqualification of the USA thus paved the way for Canada who originally finished fourth in 37.64 seconds to move up to the bronze medal position. This gives the team’s anchor, 21-year-old Andre De Grasse another silver medal at Rio having already won silver in the 100m final against Bolt.
The USA disqualification also meant China which finished the race in 37.90 now occupies the fifth spot with the sixth spot going to Great Britain who finished the race in 37.98 seconds. Brazil took the sixth spot with a time of 38.41.
Trinidad and Tobago who originally came seventh were also disqualified. The news of their disqualification came minutes after they crossed the finish line in 38.09 seconds.
The Trinidad team of Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorrillo, Emmanuel Callendar and Richard Thompson were disqualified for lane violation, the same fate which befall their colleagues in the men’s 4×400m relay heat barely two hours earlier.
Friday’s race draws the curtains on a successful career for Usain Bolt who now has nine sprint gold medals from three successive Olympic games. He is expected to now hang his ‘golden’ spikes.