Usain Bolt secured a sweep of the three men’s sprint titles for a third successive Olympics when Jamaica successfully defended their 4×100 metres relay title in 37.27 seconds.
Bolt ran the anchor leg to add the Rio relay crown to the 100 metres and 200 metres titles he had already won for a third straight Games.
His ninth gold medal drew him level with Paavo Nurmi, the Finn who dominated distance running in the early 20th century, and American sprinter and long jumper Carl Lewis as the most successful Olympic track and field athletes.
Ryoto Yamagata ran a blistering opening leg for Japan, who won a stunning silver for their first Olympic medal in the sprint relay in 37.60, improving the Asian record they set in qualifying.
Trayvon Bromell’s dip for the line was so aggressive that he stumbled over and the United States thought they were settling for bronze in 37.62, the first time they had failed to finish in the top two when they started a final. However the situation went from bad to worse,when they were disqualified along with Trinidad and Tobago. TV pictures showed Bromell stepping into Bolt’s lane in the run to the line.
Canada were elevated to bronze after their run of 37.64, a national record which gave Andre de Grasse his third medal of the Games after his bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200.
It was the only medal that Bolt was going for that required the input of anyone else but Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade gave the double sprint world record holder the narrowest of leads at the final exchange.
That was always going to be enough, though, and Bolt powered down the straight to finish five metres clear of Japan’s Aska Cambridge.
“I’m just happy to have done what I came here to do,” Bolt said “I’m just proud of myself. I have to give thanks to the guys, they really came through for me and I’m really happy about that.”
“The pressure is real, but I look at it as an accomplishment. I enjoy pressure and I live for these moments. For me, it’s beautiful.
“I won’t celebrate now. I’m just going to go home and stay up late tonight, just talking and having fun.
I’m just happy and relieved. I’ve done it and it’s unreal. I never knew from the start that this was going to happen to me and now it has it’s a brilliant feeling. I told the guys that if they didn’t come through for me I’d beat them up!”
“We wanted to win to make Usain immortal and he is immortal,” Blake added. “I’ve told him he should come back for 2020!”