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Team USA takes 1 gold, 2 silver as medals surge to 29

LONDON - A commanding victory in the women’s 4x400 relay and thrilling silvers in the men’s 4x100 and women’s high jump on Saturday night made for an exciting conclusion to track competition at Olympic Stadium. In the process, the 4x100 American record fell and Allyson Felix became the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games.

With one road event - the men’s marathon - to be contested on Sunday, Team USA’s medal tally stands at 29 medals: nine gold, 13 silver and seven bronze. The women have accounted for 14 of those medals (6 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze), just two behind the all-time record of 16 won at the boycotted 1984 Games.

Women golden in 4x400
Bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.) gave Team USA a big lead on the first leg of the women’s 4x400m relay, and that lead only grew as the U.S. ran away from the field to win by nearly four seconds. Trotter passed the baton to Felix with Francena McCorory running third and Sanya Richards-Ross anchoring the team home in dominating fashion, crossing the line in 3:16.88 to equal the fifth-fastest time in history and the third-fastest by a U.S. team. Russia finished second in 3:20.23, and Jamaica was third in 3:20.95.

Richards-Ross joined Felix (200, 4x100 and 4x400 gold) and Carmelita Jeter (100 silver, 200 bronze, 4x100 gold) as a multiple medalist, adding a second gold to her victory in the 400 meters.

American Record in men’s 4x100
In a thrilling and well-executed race coming one day after their semifinal American record,  Team USA battled neck-and-neck with Jamaica in the men’s 4x100m.  The result was a world record for Jamaica and an American record that, a minute earlier, would have tied the WR.

It was essentially a dead heat for most of the race. Running for Team USA, Trell Kimmons (Round Rock, Texas) executed a textbook- perfect handoff with Justin Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.), running even with Jamaica’s Nesta Carter to Michael Frater. Gatlin had the smallest of leads over Frater, with Tyson Gay (Clermont, Fla.) and Yohan Blake dueling over the curve. Although it appeared as though Blake had gained ground on the third leg, anchor men Ryan Bailey (Salem, Ore.) and Usain Bolt took their batons tied.

It was an unenviable position for Bailey, who did not relent against the fastest man in history. Bolt slowly pulled away to give Jamaica the win in a world record 36.84, while Bailey anchored the U.S. to their second American record in as many days. Their time of 37.04 tied the previous world record and was more than a full second ahead of third. Trinidad and Tobago took the bronze in 38.14 after Canada was disqualified for an exchange zone violation.

Barrett claims silver
At 21-years-old and the youngest woman on the team, Brigetta Barrett (Tucson, Ariz.) became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the high jump since Louise Ritter took gold in 1988 - two years before Barrett was born.

Barrett and American record holder Chaunte Lowe (Loganville, Ga.) both cleared 1.89m/6-2.25 and 1.93m/6-4 on their first attempts and 1.97m/6-5.5 on their second.  As the field was reduced to seven jumpers heading to 2.00m/6-6.75, the two Americans were tied for fourth. Barrett cleared on her second attempt to move to second place and clinch a guaranteed medal, with only Russians Anna Chicherova Svetlana Shkolina remaining. Lowe was unable to clear and finished sixth.

Barrett well cleared 2.03m/6-8 on her second try to post the best mark ever by an American at the Olympics and cast her medal in silver. Chicherova won the competition at 2.05m/6-8.75, with Shkolina third at 2.03, cleared on her third and final attempt.

5,000m medal slips from grasp
With a win in Saturday’s 5,000m, Mo Farah of Great Britain stole the show with the 5,000/10,000m double victory, while a quick-closing Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Ariz.) was tripped up in his attempt to win his third career Olympic medal. Regaining his composure in the last 20 meters, Lagat moved into fourth to finish in 13:42.99.

The race unfolded with a slow opening 3,000m that found Lopez Lomong (Beaverton, Ore.) leading a loping pack. The pace began to pick up when eventual silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel moved into the lead. Despite the faster pace, the pack remained dense and congested. Twice a medalist at 1,500m (2000, 2004)  Lagat came off the curve in Saturday’s 5,000m final positioned fifth, and while he managed to stayed upright, the clip with Kenyan Isiah Koech tripped Lagat up long enough to keep him out of the medals. Lagat regained his composure in the final meters of the race to move into fourth. Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.) moved into the lead 600m out, but was unable to answer as Farah and the rest of the pack pulled ahead, leaving him seventh in 13:45.04. Lomong finished 10th in 13:48.19.

Montano fifth in 800
Alysia Montano has run from the front in the 800m all year long, and the same was true for the Olympic final of the women’s 800. At the gun, the Olympic Trials champion moved to the lead and led the pack through a brisk first lap of 56.31. On the backstretch, the pack, with Pamela Jelimo of Kenya in the lead, began to move. With 200m left, Russians Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova surged past Montano and the race for the medals was on. Jelimo faded while South Africa’s Caster Semenya came back from last place. Savinova won easily in 1:56.19, with Semenya second in 1:57.23 and Poistogova third in 1:57.53. Jelimo was fourth in 1:57.59 and Montano fifth in 1:57.93.

On the roads
In the first event of the day, John Nunn (San Diego, Calif.) set a personal best by more than a minute in 4:03:28 to finish 43rd in the men’s 50km race walk. Nunn was on pace through the halfway point to walk under four hours (splitting 25k in 1:58:29), but was unable to sustain the effort. As more than a dozen athletes were eliminated from the competition due to penalties or withdrawing from the race, Nunn did not receive a single mark from the judges and walked a clean race. Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia won in an Olympic Record of 3:35:59, with Jared Tallent of Australia second in 3:36:53, and Tiangeng Si of China third in 3:37:16.

Maria Michta (Nesconset, N.Y.) set a huge personal best in the 20 km race walk with a time of 1:32:27, the second-fastest time ever by an American woman. Michta finished 29th after working her way steadily through the pack. Michta also notched a 10 km personal best of 46:02 on the first 6.2 miles of the race. Elena Lashmanova of Russia won gold in a world record time of 1:25:02, with her teammate Olga Kaniskina taking second in 1:25:09, and Shenjie Qieyang of China finishing third in 1:25:16.

Team USA Medal Count - 29 total
Gold (9)
Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.), W200, 21.88
Sanya Richards-Ross (Austin, Texas), W400, 49.55
Women’s 4x400m relay (D. Trotter, A. Felix, F. McCorory, S. Richards-Ross), 3:16.87
Women’s 4x100m relay (T. Madison, A. Felix, B. Knight, C. Jeter), 40.82WR
Brittney Reese (Gulfport, Miss.), WLJ, 7.12m/23-4.25
Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.), WPV, 4.75/15-7
Aries Merritt (Bryan, Texas), M110H, 12.92
Christian Taylor (Daytona Beach, Fla.), MTJ, 17.81m/58-5.25
Ashton Eaton (Eugene, Ore.), MDEC, 8,869

Silver (13)
Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W100, 10.78
Dawn Harper (Los Angeles, Calif.), W100H, 12.37
Lashinda Demus (Palmdale, Calif.), W400H, 52.77
Brigetta Barrett (Tempe, Ariz.), WHJ, 2.03m/6-8
Leo Manzano (Austin Texas), M1500, 3:34.79
Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.), M10,000m, 27:30.90
Jason Richardson (Los Angeles, Calif.), M110H, 13.04
Michael Tinsley (Round Rock, Texas), M400H, 47.91
Men’s 4x100m relay (T. Kimmons, J. Gatlin, T. Gay, R. Bailey), 37.04AR
Men’s 4x400m relay (B. Nellum, J. Mance, T. McQuay, A. Taylor), 2:57.05
Erik Kynard (Manhattan, Kans.) MHJ, 2.33m/7-7.75
Will Claye (Imperial Beach, Calif.), MTJ, 17.62m/57-9.75
Trey Hardee (Austin, Texas), MDEC, 8,671

Bronze (7)
Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W200, 22.14
DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.), W400, 49.72
Kellie Wells (Orlando, Fla.), W100H, 12.48
Janay DeLoach (Fort Collins, Colo.), WLJ, 6.89/22-7.25
Justin Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.) M100, 9.79
Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.), MSP, 21.23m/69-8
Will Claye (San Diego, Calif.), MLJ, 8.12m/26-7.75

Team USA Head Coach Quotes

Amy Deem, Team USA women’s head coach: “It was an awesome performance by the women’s team. They just stepped up and had a great week. I really, truly believed the women would bring in a lot of medals. I think our women have grown up with some heroes and seen what they can accomplish. We have great leadership now with athletes like Allyson and Sanya. This is just the beginning.”

Andrew Valmon, Team USA  men’s head coach: “Overall, with one day to go, we are very satisfied. We wanted to get medals in everything from 100 to 10,000 meters and in the field events, and we did that. It was contagious. What we did was incredible. We had two people in almost every final. In places where someone didn’t perform as well as we had hoped, there was always that next shining star.”

Team USA Athlete Quotes

Brigetta Barrett, High Jump: “I’m definitely thankful I have the medal, but it is really what comes with the medal that means a lot. I know that God has brought me so far and I know where I started, so to be able to stand here and look back on the journey, that is what it really means for me. My mom is in the stands smiling and healthy, so it’s great.”

Chaunte Lowe, High Jump: “My performance was not great, but I am really proud of Brigetta. She is a really great talent and I am glad that she was able to stay poised on this type of a stage. Nothing went wrong, it’s just when you try to cram four years of training into one year, it’s a little tough. It could have gone either way. Overall, I think I had a great season, I just wasn’t ready on this night.”

Bernard Lagat, 5,000m: “I was very confident. I was just trying to go as I hard as I could. It would have been better to have been on the podium. The fourth spot is tough but I have been the most blessed person in my career.”

Galen Rupp, 5,000m: “I feel like I didn’t have anything to lose. I was looking for a medal but I got that in the 10K. I just have to learn from it and get better, get stronger. It’s hard to prepare for this but now I know what to expect.”

Lopez Lomong, 5,000m: “I wasn’t disappointed at all. I put everything I had into it. I am so excited to be here and represent America and of course the fans back home. They have been cheering me on.”

Alysia Montano, 800m: “It’s been a long road to get here. It felt like forever and now it’s gone. I fell a little short but I gave it my all. Those women are really good and I am happy to be a part of it. It’s bittersweet. I went out there and fought. I still see myself making errors and that was the difference in medaling for me.“

Allyson Felix, 4x400m: “It is unbelievable. I think about how I ended in Beijing and kind of feeling discouraged there and now for years later to have all of this happen and to really accomplish every goal that I set out, is just such a blessing. London is very special to me.”

Sanya Richards Ross, 4x400m: “They made it too easy for me. It felt good to do this in front of such a big crowd...It’s been phenomenal, it’s been such a great experience.”

DeeDee Trotter, 4x400m relay: “This has been by far one of the best women’s teams we have put together in many years. I’ve been on teams since 2003, so to have the opportunity to come out here with the caliber like this is crazy. We almost put three women in every final, and to cap it all off with this 4x4 team running 3:16. The women and the men’s team, I can’t tell you how phenomenal of a squad we have, and we’re still young, we have a lot of work to do.

Francena McCorory, 4x400m relay: “We had a wonderful time tonight. I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of myself and I’m just blessed to be here...It feels wonderful (the strong female performance in London):. We have set a good example and we hope that trickles down to young girls watching us from home.”

Trell Kimmons, 4x100m: “We all had good, clean handoffs. We were excited and went out there to have fun. You have to respect Jamaica.”

Justin Gatlin, 4x100m: “It is so different when you run a regular 100m and have to worry about yourself and go through the technical motions, running a relay is almost the purist form of just running. Once you get the stick, you are really booking it. I’m just trying to get the stick to Tyson and make sure it is a clean handoff so he can get around the track without any worries. … Before this, the American record was 37.40. Now it’s 37.04. Next year we’ll be 36. “

Tyson Gay, 4x100m: “I’m glad I got the medal. I still want that individual medal though, but I am extremely happy to medal tonight.”

Ryan Bailey, 4x100m: “We didn’t win but we did break the American record and old world record. When I got the baton, I was thinking, ‘Run! Run for my life!’ He (Bolt) is a monster. I was just trying to run with him as long as I could.”

Maria Michta, 20 km race walk: “I think I raced the first [kilometer] with my head and my last 19k with my heart. It was the best race in every scenario - I wanted to set a 10k pr, get the Olympic A standard, set a personal best, everything  I wanted and more happened today. It is just a dream come true, everything that I did getting to this point has all been worth it to have a race like this.”

John Nunn, 50 km race walk: "There is still a lot of improvement to do, but I was pleased. I went through halfway in 1:58:30, and I was with a good group of guys. It wasn't too fast for the first half, but I just didn't have the strength for the second half that I was hoping to. I was just hoping to go a little faster the second half for sure. I just started walking 50k 9 months ago, so there is still a lot of room for improvement, but this is a good step in the right direction."

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