Percentage baton play
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As Carmelita Jeter sprinted across the finish line in the women's 4x100-meter relay on Friday night, she turned to her left and pointed a finger at the electronic clock beside the track as if to say, "Look at what we just did." A beat later, the board flashed Jeter's news in bold type: NEW WR.
Jeter's final leg capped a blistering race for the United States team, which won its first gold medal in the event in 16 years and did it in emphatic fashion. The winning time of 40.82 seconds shattered the world record of 41.37, which was set in 1985 by East Germany, whose athletes were later found to be part of a state-run doping system. The dominance of the United States women's team also highlighted one of the cleaner nights for the American relay team in recent memory and capped a stunning workweek for American track athletes over all.
In addition to the women's 4x100 victory, the injury-plagued men's 4x400-meter relay team won a silver medal on Friday, giving the United States 19 track medals since Monday. The women's sprinters provided the 10th gold.
"In my heart I said, 'We just did it,'" Jeter recalled of crossing the finish line. "We wanted to get that medal home because it hasn't been home in a while."
Although the United States is traditionally strong in the sprints, the women's 4x100 had been a relative blight — the Americans' last gold coming at the Atlanta Games in 1996. A series of dropped batons and missed exchanges had made for a stretch of disappointment — one that seemed to be contagious as the men's sprint relay teams had their share of troubles, too.
On Friday, though, the American passes were perfect. Tianna Madison broke quickly from the blocks, then passed cleanly to Allyson Felix, who won the 200 this week. Bianca Knight ran the curve on the third leg before Jeter, who took silver in the 100, blazed toward the finish, where she celebrated just as she crossed the line.
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