Call them the Fantastic Four: Allyson Felix, English Gardner, Tori Bowie and Tianna Bartoletta capped off their Friday night by winning gold in the women’s 4×100-meter relay.
From the moment Bartoletta stepped off her block to begin the relay, it was clear the American women had a fire under them, and each pass of the baton resulted in an even faster and more impressive performance from the following runner.
Felix — who just days ago lost out on gold in the individual 400-meter race when the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dove over the finish line — kept up her team’s momentum, before handing things off to Gardner, who immediately flew past a majority of her competitors to give America a considerable advantage. Then, in the final leg, Bowie managed to outrun ’em all, including the heavily favored Jamaican team, who earned silver.
Of course, this particular gold medal comes with a massive helping of redemption, seeing as the U.S. ladies barely qualified for the final race in the first place. After dropping the baton in the preliminary heats, the women challenged their disqualification — and when it was determined that a Brazilian runner had interfered with Felix during the heat, the U.S. was granted a rerun that allowed them to advance to the finals.
I do believe the evening can best be summed up by Felix — now the first woman to win five Olympic gold medals in track and field — during her post-race Q&A: “It was about time something good happened!”
Here are some other buzzed-about moments from Day 14 of the Rio games:
* To absolutely no one’s surprise, Usain Bolt pulled off the hat trick to end all hat tricks — three sprinting gold medals in three consecutive Olympic games, aka the “Triple Triple” — by anchoring the men’s 4×100-meter relay, which ended in victory for the Jamaican team. (On the flip side, the U.S. quartet — who initially nabbed bronze in the relay — was ultimately disqualified for an early baton pass, resulting in one of NBC’s most awkward post-race interviews ever.)
* The United States — which has suffered heartbreak after heartbreak when it comes to volleyball in Rio — once again saw its gold-medal dreams dashed, when the men’s indoor team lost its tremendous lead over Italy. Seemingly inspired by teammate Ivan Zaytsev and his frighteningly good serves, Italy made one of Rio’s most memorable comebacks, trouncing the U.S. and moving on to Sunday’s championship match.
* Germany walked away with its first-ever gold medal in women’s soccer, besting Sweden (who won silver) in a 2-1 match. Canada earned bronze, while the United States — who has won every women’s soccer tournament since the 2000 games in Sydney — came up empty.
* Also striking gold for the first time: Great Britain’s women’s field hockey team, who triumphed over the Netherlands in one heckuva 2-0 shootout.
* Just when it seemed like American pole vaulter Sandi Morris would clinch the gold medal with her final pass, the sliiiightest (and most heartbreaking) of bumps against the pole at the last moment knocked her down to second place, with Greece’s Ekateríni Stefanídi claiming the top prize instead.
What was your favorite moment of this day of Olympic competition? What are you most looking forward to in the final days of the games?