RIO DE JANEIRO — In perhaps the final Olympic race of his remarkable career, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt went a perfect three for three in his third straight Summer Games, an unprecedented feat and one that might stand untouched for years to come.
Bolt, who added the Rio 100- and 200-meter dash titles to the crowns he won in Beijing and London, anchored Jamaica’s 400-meter relay team to victory Friday at Olympic Stadium in 37.27 seconds.
Japan was a surprising second in 37.60 seconds. The U.S. team of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Trayvon Bromell that took third in 37.62 seconds, but was later disqualified for what’s believed to be a lane violation on their first baton exchange. Fourth-place Canada (37.64 seconds) was elevated to the bronze.
Bolt ran away from the field in the last 30 meters or so, then promptly ran to the crowd to greet his adoring fans before rejoining his teammates for celebrations that included dancing, wrapping themselves in flags and generally savoring a historic moment.
Bolt, who will be 30 on Sunday, has said he will retire after these Rio Games, which would be a great loss to a sport that urgently needs not only his excellence but his genial, fan-friendly personality. He didn’t set any world records in Rio but he created great excitement and brought thousands of spectators to a stadium that was largely empty throughout the competition.
Earlier Friday, the U.S. women’s 1,600-meter relay team ran the fastest first-round time- — 3:21.42 — and moved on to Saturday’s final. The lineup of Courtney Okolo, Taylor Ellis-Watson, Francena McCorory and Phyllis Francis got the baton around cleanly, avoiding any mishaps of the variety that the 400-meter relay experienced in its first-round heat on Thursday. The 1,600-meter lineup will change for the final, though the exact lineup won’t be announced until this afternoon.
Jamaica (3:22.38) had the second-best time, followed by Ukraine, Britain, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Australia.
The U.S. men’s 1,600-meter relay team finished second in its heat to Jamaica, which got a scorching anchor leg from Javon Francis. Arman Hall, Tony McQuay, Kyle Clemons and David Verburg of the U.S. were timed in 2:58.38, just behind Jamaica’s 2:58.29. Trinidad and Tobago was disqualified from that heat. Britain won the second heat but was disqualified, allowing Brazil to make Saturday’s final.
In the women’s 5,000, Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot of Kenya set an Olympic record with a time of 14:27.17 to win gold, ahead of Hellen Obiri of Kenya (14:29.77) and 10,000-meter champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia (14:33.59). Shelby Houlihan, who became the lone American entrant when Abbey D’Agostino had to withdraw because of a serious knee injury she suffered during a fall in the previous round, finished 11th in 15:08.89.