Usain Bolt’s final Olympic race further cemented his status as one of the greatest athletes ever, with the 6-foot-5 Jamaican running anchor on his nation’s 4×100-meter relay team Friday night in Rio.
Receiving the baton nearly even with United States anchor Trayvon Bromell, Bolt blazed past him to secure Jamaica a third consecutive 4×100 Olympic gold and give him a track and field record-tying nine Olympic gold medals for his career.
While Bolt’s nine golds inch him further into athletics lore, Allyson Felix secured a place alone atop the Olympic women’s track and field hierarchy by helping Team USA to its second straight 4×100 gold. Felix now has five gold medals, breaking The Netherlands’ Fanny Blankers-Koen’s mark of four that had stood since 1948. Her nine overall medals are third all-time for both men and women.
Bolt is now 9-for-9 in Olympic finals, securing golds in the 100, 200 and 4×100 races the past three Games. No other sprinter had won gold in the 100 and 200 in consecutive games. The 29-year-old Jamaican has now done so in the past three, accomplishing the triple-triple he sought.
Sprinter and long jumper Carl Lewis and Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi share that record with Bolt. Lewis won his golds from 1984-1996, and Nurmi did so from 1920-28.
Bolt anchored a relay team featuring three of the top five fastest men ever, with Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake joining him along with Nickel Ashmeade. But with Powell and Blake not in top form, Jamaica required the usual breakaway anchor leg Bolt provides. He delivered to give Jamaica a winning time of 37.27 seconds, which is a tick off their 36.84-second world record set in 2012. Team USA was disqualified for an exchange-zone violation.
Despite not competing in the 100 or 200 in Brazil, Felix ran on the 4×100 team’s second leg for the second straight Olympics. The 30-year-old versatile sprinter helped a team also housing long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Tori Bowie to gold in 41.01 seconds — the second-fastest time in history. Bartoletta also ran on the 2012 world-record-setting team.
Felix’s five golds came in the 2012 open 200, the 2008 and ’12 4×400 and the ’12 and ’16 4×100 races. She has a chance to claim a sixth gold on Saturday night in the women’s 4×400 and earn her 10th overall Olympic medal.
The latter total would tie her with Lewis and fellow American Ray Ewry for second all-time.