LONDON -- What Carmelita Jeter could not do on her own she did with her teammates. Together, they defeated their rivals from Jamaica in the womens 400-meter relay Friday at Olympic Stadium, and they did it in world-record time.
For the first time since the 2000 Olympics, the United States women completed four legs around the track and across the finish line. They treated the baton like the Crown Jewels.
Jeter, an also-ran in the 100 and 200, accepted the baton with no hesitation or wasted motion and powered down the straight to a gold medal. The United States smashed one of the sports oldest and most suspicious records with a time of 40.82. East Germany had owned the mark of 41.37 since 1985.
You know what, I knew these women were going to do their job, they were going to make it happen for me, Jeter said. All I had to do was bring the stick home.
Jeter finished second in the 100 to Jamaicas Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and third in the 200, behind teammate Allyson Felix and Fraser-Pryce. She sprinted an extra 100 on Friday, carried along by a surge of joy after she pointed at the clock and screamed.
I was thinking Olympic record, and when I saw world record I said, Oh my gosh, said Felix, who ran the second leg and won her second gold. This is crazy.
Tianna Madison of Sanford beat Jamaicas Fraser-Pryce out of the blocks, and Felix extended the lead against Sherone Simpson. Jamaica finished second in a national-record time of 41.41.
The U.S. women had problems staying in the exchange zone and holding onto the baton at the 2004 and 08 Olympics. They hadnt won the event since 1996. But on Friday, they were flawless. They had been fine-tuning handoffs with relay coach Jon Drummond and were determined to avoid embarrassment.
We had a cloud hanging over us with people saying, They cant do it, theyre going to drop the stick, said Jeter, who pushed a five-meter lead to 10. We did it!
But obliteration of a 27-year-old record, yellowing in the books since it was set by the GDR sports machine, which was revealed to be fueled by steroids after the Berlin Wall fell?
A pleasant surprise, Bianca Knight said.
For the U.S. men, an unpleasant surprise. With their top two quarter-milers injured and unable to compete, the Americans cobbled together a team for the 1,600-meter relay.
Hurdler Angelo Taylor, straining and spent four days after he ran the 400 hurdles, was passed with 50 meters to go on the final leg by the Bahamas Ramon Miller. After winning the Olympic event 16 times, the United States was second-best, again upstaged by a small island nation.
The U.S. guys know weve been just behind them or thereabouts for a long time, said Miller, a Nassau native and Dickinson State (N.D.) graduate.
During the past week, the U.S. men took bronze in the 100 behind two Jamaicans; fourth in the 200 behind three Jamaicans; took zero medals in the 400 won by Grenadas Kirani James; and one in the 400 hurdles won by the Dominican Republics Felix Sanchez. They finished 1-2 in the 110 hurdles and have a chance to unseat defending Olympic champ and world-record holder Jamaica in the 400 relay on Saturday.
The United States could not forge a solid lead on its first two legs with Bryshon Nellum and Joshua Mance, although Tony McQuay of West Palm Beach was in first when he handed off to Taylor. Miller was right on Taylors tail through the back straight and pounced in the home stretch. The winning time was 2:56.73, and Taylor was .33 behind.