U.S. women make most of second chance, win gold in 4x100 meters

RIO DE JANEIRO -- After controversy almost kept the United States women's 4x100-meter relay team out of Friday's final, the group instead was able to defend its Olympic title.

The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie finished first to win the gold medal, followed by Jamaica and Great Britain.

The gold is Felix's fifth, the most of any U.S. female track star in history.

The Americans, who needed to set a qualifying time in a solo rerun hours after dropping the baton in Thursday's preliminaries and getting a second chance on protest, won the final in 41.01 seconds.

The Jamaican team that featured Elain Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was second in 41.36. Britain won bronze in a national-record 41.77.

As so often, Felix's celebrations were mostly muted, but her smile told it all. She had been through injury, the inability to defend her 200-meter title because she didn't qualify at the U.S. trials and a near disqualification in the relay heats.

"Adversity sometimes makes you stronger,'' she said. "We've each had a rocky road to get here, and we came together to win the gold.''

It was an impressive comeback after near disaster on Thursday, when Felix dropped the baton after being bumped by a Brazilian runner. That led to the rerun, and the Americans qualified fastest, taking the place of China in the final.

The drawback was they were given the worst lane of all, Lane 1, which has the tightest corners and usually impedes top speed.

It didn't bother them.

Felix ran the second leg for the Americans, the same section as 100- and 200-meter gold medalist Thompson, and passed to Gardner, who ran a powerful curve to give her team the lead.

Bowie ran the anchor leg and held off Fraser-Pryce as the Americans only narrowly missed the world record.

Bartoletta was already waiting for Bowie for a wild embrace and to celebrate the second-fastest time in history behind the world record that Felix & Co. set in winning gold at the London Games.

For Bartoletta, it was her second gold in Rio, after she also won the long jump.

Felix entered the Games as one of just six women to have won four golds in track and field. At the same time, silver for Jamaica allowed Veronica Campbell-Brown to win a medal at a fifth Olympics dating back to the 2000 Sydney Games.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.