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US women break world record in 4×100 relay

By Gary D’Amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

LONDON — Carmelita Jeter glanced at the clock as she sprinted toward the finish line at Olympic Stadium and then pointed her baton at it, as if to say, “Look at that, world!”

She crossed the line and the clock stopped at 40.82 seconds Friday night.

Jeter let out a scream.

The U.S. women’s 400 relay team had just destroyed the 27-year-old world record of 41.37, set by East Germany on Oct. 6, 1985. The Americans had won the gold medal, beating rival Jamaica by more than one-half second.

“I looked over at the clock and I’m seeing the time . . . 37, 38, 39 . . . and in my heart I said, ‘We did it. We just made history,’ ” Jeter said. “I was so blessed to run with these women.”

The baton exchanges were flawless, the splits fast. There’s no such thing as a perfect relay race, but this was closer to it than four female sprinters had ever come.

Tianna Madison ran the first leg, Allyson Felix the second and Bianca Knight the third before Jeter ran the anchor leg.

“When Bianca was bringing me the stick I was like, ‘Come on, come on, come on,’ ” said Jeter, who won silver in the 200 meters Wednesday. “I knew that if we got the stick around then all I had to do was bring it home.”

Knight, 23, noted that the previous world record “was older than I am.” The Olympic record of 41.60 was even older, also set by East Germany at the 1980 Moscow Games.

“I saw the huge lead we had,” said Felix, who won gold in the 200 and plans to run in the 1,600 relay final Saturday. “To look up and see we had a world record, it was crazy. It was a beautiful thing to see.

“As soon as Bianca handed off to ‘Jet’ I knew it was done.”

The U.S. and Jamaica went into the relay as co-favorites. Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran the leadoff leg for Jamaica, already had won gold in the 100. But the race wasn’t close as Jeter beat Jamaican anchor Kerron Stewart to the finish line by about 15 feet.

“We got a national record (41.41 seconds), so we have to be thankful,” said Sherone Simpson, who ran the second leg.

“The Americans were better than us,” Fraser-Pryce said. “We have had enough celebrations in Jamaica (for Usain Bolt) already.”

Ukraine took the bronze medal in 42.04, also a national record.

Jeter, 32, said she knew her teammates were going to run a great race because they were loose and confident before the start.

“When we were walking to the call room we were playing and having so much fun,” she said. “I knew from that moment we were going to run well. I knew these girls were going to run their hearts out.”

Madison, 26, was a long jumper until switching to the sprints and rededicating herself to training this year. She said she hadn’t run in a relay since college.

“The big turnaround was my husband,” she said. “He told me I was sleeping on the gift God gave me.”

Knight is competing in her first Olympic Games.

“A gold medal and a world record in my first Olympics,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this feeling again.”

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