U.S. sprinters (from left to right) Bianca Knight, Allyson Felix, Tianna… (Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON — Allyson Felix could not believe what the Olympic Stadium scoreboard was telling her.
She had taken the baton from Tianna Madison and did her part well on the second leg of the U.S. 400-meter relay team Friday before handing the baton to Bianca Knight, who got it to Carmelita Jeter for a blazing anchor leg. As Jeter crossed the finish line she pointed to the clock and screamed.
Felix gasped: Their time was 40.82 seconds, eclipsing the world record of 41.37 set 27 years ago by East Germany.
PHOTOS: London Olympics, Day 14
"It was absolutely an unreal feeling," Felix said after winning her second gold medal of the Games and the first for the U.S. in the 400 relay since 1996. "For so long the record had been out of reach."
But few records are unbeatable and no streak lasts forever, as the U.S. men's 1,600 relay team discovered a few minutes later.
U.S. men had won every 1,600 Olympic final in which they had competed since 1952, a stretch that excludes a withdrawal in 1972 and a boycott-induced absence in 1980. But that dominance ended Friday after injuries sidelined LaShawn Merritt, Jeremy Wariner and the courageous Manteo Mitchell, who broke his left leg halfway into his first-round stint Thursday but kept going so he could keep the team's chances alive.
Bahamas anchor Ramon Miller passed emergency replacement Angelo Taylor with about 60 meters left Friday to finish off the upset in 2:56.72. The U.S. won silver in 2:57.05. "The streak is finally gone. We finally got them," said Michael Mathieu, who ran the Bahamas' third leg.
Tony McQuay ran the third U.S. leg, after Bryshon Nellum and Josh Mance, and handed the lead to Taylor. "I surely thought we sealed the deal," McQuay said. "I made sure I made a clean pass. Watching him run, I just was shivering. I saw the Bahamas coming down the backstretch and as they got closer I said, 'Come on, Angelo. You're a legend. I know you've got a kick in there somewhere.'"
"I thought the second gear would come on, but it came on too late. I think I should have moved a little bit earlier," said Taylor, 33, who had competed in three rounds of the 400 hurdles but said he wasn't fatigued Friday.
"It was a tough race. The Bahamas had a phenomenal team. I knew it was going to be tough. And my hat goes off to the Bahamas for winning their first Olympic gold medal in the relay.
"We gave it all we had. We did our best today, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough."
The U.S. women's 400 relay team was stellar in besting the Jamaican-record 41.41 seconds run by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart.
"It's a relief, a joy. We went into it so comfortable," said Felix, who will vie for a third gold medal Saturday in the 1,600 relay final.
The quartet of Keshia Baker, Francena McCorory, Diamond Dixon and DeeDee Trotter got the U.S. into that final with a top qualifying time Friday of 3:22.09.
The men's 400 relay team of Jeff Demps, Doc Patton, Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin ran an American-record time of 37.38 seconds to advance to Saturday's final. "This was my first time running anchor ever, so to win and set the American record is special," Gatlin said. "When we come together we can break records, like we did today."
Mitchell, frustrated while watching the 1,600 final, took a picture of the Bahamas quartet celebrating its victory. "It's the last thing I want to see again," he said. "If there's anything I can do, it will never happen again."
Morgan Uceny of the U.S., who was in good position on the outside as the bell lap began for the women's 1,500 final and seemed about to make a charge, was clipped and fell hard, taking her out of the race. Uceny, who fell at last year's world championships, pounded the track with both hands and remained there sobbing well after the race was over. The other U.S. entrant, Shannon Rowbury, finished sixth in 4:11.26. Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut pulled off a 1-2 finish for Turkey in 4:10.23 and 4:10.40.
U.S. pole vault champion Brad Walker passed at the initial height of 18 feet 1/2 inch in Friday's final but then missed his three attempts at 18-6 1/2. Renaud Lavillenie of France won with an Olympic-record clearance of 19-7. Australia's Steven Hooker, who set the Olympic record of 19-6 1/2 at Beijing, also dropped out after failing to clear 18-6 1/2.
Tirunesh Dibaba's attempt at a distance double for a second straight Olympics ended when Ethiopian teammate Meseret Defar passed her down the stretch and won the 5,000 in 15:04.25. Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya won silver in 15:04.73, with Dibaba third in 15:05.15.