US women win 4×400 to give Felix 3rd Olympic gold

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LONDON (AP)—By the time Allyson Felix was done with her part, her third gold medal of the Olympics was all but hanging around her neck.

Staking the U.S. team to more than a 2-second lead at the halfway point Saturday night, then watching Sanya Richards-Ross bring home the blowout victory, Felix added the 4×400-meter relay gold to the titles she won earlier in the 4×100 relay and 200-meter sprint.

DreamTeam
DREAM TEAM—United States’ women’s 4 X 400-meter relay team from left, Francena McCorory, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Deedee Trotter celebrate after winning the gold medal in at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Aug. 11. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

“By the time I got the stick,” Richards-Ross said, “it was basically a victory lap.”

The United States finished in 3 minutes, 16.87 seconds—good for a 3.36-second rout over Russia, the biggest margin in the final of the long relay at the Olympics since East Germany beat the U.S. by 3.58 seconds in 1976.

Jamaica took third in 3:20.95.

“I think we were all pumped before this race,” Felix said. “There was a lot of emotion. We just wanted to close it out.”

The U.S. extended its Olympic winning streak in this event to five straight, dating to 1996.

Felix became the first U.S. woman to win three golds in Olympic track since 1988, when Florence Griffith-Joyner won the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay in Seoul.

Felix’s victories came nearly a quarter-century later and half a world away, though she’s now in the same stratosphere with some of the U.S. greats.

“London is very special to me,” said Felix, who now has a total of six Olympic medals.

Handed about a 10-meter lead by teammate DeeDee Trotter, Felix ran the second leg in 47.8 seconds—1.8 seconds faster than Russia’s Antonina Krivoshapka—to put a huge swath of track between her and the Russians before she handed off to Francena McCorory.

McCorory expanded the lead by another .49 seconds, then delivered it to Richards-Ross, who was basically running alone, loosely holding onto the baton as she breezed across the finish line.

All she had to do was pace herself and make sure she didn’t fall.

Also receiving gold will be Keshia Baker, Diamond Dixon and Rochester’s Lauryn Williams, who ran in the preliminaries.

The track meet could have been an even more rousing success for the United States had the men won more than the one medal they took in the 100, 200 and 400—events they dominated for decades, until Usain Bolt came around.

But that’s not Felix’s fault.

And she’ll leave London having accomplished the same things Bolt did at these games: Three gold medals and one world record. Felix got hers (40.82 seconds) Friday night as part of the 4×100 relay team. Bolt got his in Saturday night’s men’s 4×100 (36.84).

The U.S. has won the 4×400 at every Olympics and world championship since 2007.

“That’s the Dream Team, all day,” said Trotter, who also took bronze in the 400 meters.

Some track touts predicted Jamaica—or maybe Russia—might give the United States a run in this race.

Sounded good in theory.

“On paper, it seemed like it was going to be a great race,” Richards-Ross said. “But by the time I got the stick, we had already dominated the race.”

It’s a great moment for the 27-year-old Jamaican native, as well.

Richards-Ross has dual citizenship and her parents moved to the U.S. when she was 12, in part because there were better training opportunities available in the States.

These days, she’s married to Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Aaron Ross, who has two Super Bowl rings at home that will now share space with a few more gold medals.

No real stress this time, though, and the U.S. women hardly looked winded as they danced and circled the track with American flags held high behind their heads.

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