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Usain Bolt wins third gold of Rio Olympics, ninth of career

Usain Bolt, center, pulls away from the field to give Jamaica the win in the 400-meter relay. To his left is St. Petersburg’s Trayvon Bromell, who crosses third for the United States, which is later disqualified.
Published Aug. 20, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Unquestionably the best.

Usain Bolt bid a blazing-fast farewell to the Rio Olympics — and likely the Olympics altogether — Friday night with yet another anchor leg for the ages. He turned a close 400-meter relay against Japan and the United States into a never-a-doubt runway, helping Jamaica cross the line in 37.27 seconds for his third straight gold in the event, his third gold of these Games and the ninth gold of his career.

"There you go," he said. "I am the greatest."

Japan won the silver medal, finishing .33 seconds behind.

The United States, with St. Petersburg's Trayvon Bromell on the anchor leg, finished third but endured yet another relay debacle. It was later disqualified because leadoff runner Mike Rodgers passed the baton to Justin Gatlin outside the exchange zone. It's the ninth time since 1995 the U.S. men have been disqualified from a relay or failed to get the baton around at an Olympics or a World Championships.

Canada was elevated to third place.

Bolt, who had said his main goal for the Rio Games was immortality, is 9-for-9 in Olympic gold-medal races and is the third athlete with nine track and field golds, joining Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi; Lewis won four of his in the long jump, and Nurmi was a distance runner. Also this week Bolt became the first man to win three straight 100s and three straight 200s.

"I am just relieved. It's happened. I am just happy, proud of myself. It's come true," Bolt said. "The pressure is real. I look at it as an accomplishment."

Bromell, who had been running with a left Achilles problem and finished last in the 100 final, stumbled as he crossed the finish line. After the 100, he said he would have Achilles surgery after the Games. After the relay, he posted on Twitter a photo of his left leg with the heel area heavily wrapped. "Things happen," he wrote. "Move on and build."

The U.S. women had a much better night. They retained their 400 relay title and helped Allyson Felix become the first woman with five track and field golds.

The Americans won the final in 41.01 seconds, the second-fastest time ever. Tampa resident Tianna Bartoletta, who ran the leadoff leg, got her second Rio gold, joining her long jump gold.

A Jamaican team with Rio 100 and 200 gold medalist Elaine Thompson and 2008 and '12 100 gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took silver in 41.36. Britain won bronze in 41.77.

Felix, 30, entered the Games as one of six women with four gold medals in track and field.

Bartoletta, also a member of the 2012 gold-winning relay team, became the fourth athlete to win gold in the long jump and 400 relay in the same Olympics, ESPN said. They others are Lewis (1984 and 1992), Heide Rosendahl (1972) and Jesse Owens (1936).

In the women's pole vault, American Jenn Suhr broke down in tears after failing to defend her gold medal. She said she had been sick for 10 days, was coughing up blood Friday and was concerned her illness was worse than the respiratory infection she had thought she had. Suhr was eliminated with a vault of 15 feet, 1 inch. Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi won with a vault of 15 feet, 11 inches. American Sandy Morris took silver with the same height but one more miss. New Zealand's Eliza McCartney got bronze.

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