United States powers to gold in women's 4x100 relay

The United States won the women's Olympic 4x100-metres relay on Friday as Allyson Felix became the first woman to collect five gold medals in athletics.

Allyson Felix earns historic 5th gold medal

Allyson Felix, right, earned a historic 5th gold medal as the United States won the women's 4x100 metres relay in Rio on Friday. (Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)

A day after a near-disaster with a dropped baton, defending champions the United States made no mistake on Friday when they won the women's Olympic 4x100 metres relay and Allyson Felix became the first woman to collect five athletics gold medals.

The U.S. team of Tianna Bartoletta, Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie clocked 41.01 seconds, the second-fastest time ever after the U.S. world record set in London four years ago, to beat Jamaica (41.36) and Britain (41.77).

"It's very special. It was great to join these women tonight. It's just a very unique experience," Felix said of her milestone.

"The adversity yesterday made us even more determined. We just kept fighting the whole way through," she added, referring to the 'crazy freak accident' in the Thursday morning heats when the baton dropped to the ground as she handed over to Gardner.

The Americans appealed successfully, arguing that Felix had been impeded by a Brazilian runner, and went through at China's expense after being allowed to race by themselves in a solo heat in the evening.

They sailed through in the final despite the disadvantage of racing in the Lane 1, fuelled by determination not to repeat Thursday's mishap.

"It really made us focus and buckle down on executing the race," Bartoletta said.

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson, running the second leg after Christania Williams before handing over to Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, narrowly missed out on matching compatriot Usain Bolt's sprint treble after her victories in the 100 and 200.

"Wonderful experience. My first Olympics. Two golds, a silver, I can't complain," she said.

The British team of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita came third to take their country's first medal in the event since 1984.

Felix had previously won golds in the 200, and the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in 2012, and the 4x400 in 2008, and was narrowly denied in the 400 earlier this week when Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas defeated her with a desperate dive for the line.

Women's 5,000

​​Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot won the Olympic women's 5,000 final on Friday, breaking the Games record to stun pre-race favourite Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia to take gold.

World 5,000 champion Ayana was hunting her second gold medal in Rio after she shattered the 10,000 world record last week but it was Cheruiyot who triumphed with a superb tactical run to win in a time of 14.26:17.

Ayana looked to be on the way to another dominant victory after surging into a huge lead four laps into the race but the Ethiopian tired in the closing stages and was unable to hold off Cheruiyot's late surge.

Cheruiyot had to settle for silver in the 10,000 in one of the greatest ever long-distance races, saying afterwards she would be Olympic champion one day. The 32-year-old stayed true to her word in the 5,000 final and did not panic when Ayana burst into the lead, winning Kenya's first ever medal over the distance and cementing her legacy as her country's most decorated female athlete.

Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri clocked a personal best of 14:29.77 to take silver behind Cheruiyot, who is a four-time world champion in the 5,000 and 10,000.

Ayana had to settle for bronze.

Greece's Stefanidi wins women's pole vault

Greek athlete Ekaterini Stefanidi won the women's Olympic pole vault, clearing 4.85 metres to beat American Sandi Morris, who took silver.

Stefanidi, a 26-year-old who lives in the United States, shouted in ecstasy as she cleared the bar at 4.85m and celebrated before she even landed. Her gold was Greece's first in athletics since the Athens Games in 2004.

"I can't believe what's happened. It's amazing, the crowd were amazing, my parents are here," Stefanidi told reporters. "I'm glad to make my country proud."

Morris, 24, also cleared 4.85 but took silver because of more failed attempts earlier in the competition.

In a show of sportsmanship, she could be seen clapping along with the crowd as Stefanidi prepared for her final, ultimately failed, attempt.

New Zealand's Eliza McCartney, 19, cleared 4.80m to tie her national record and take bronze.

American Jennifer Suhr, 34, who won gold in London in 2012 and silver in Beijing in 2008 competed despite fighting illness since arriving in Rio. She successfully completed only one vault, at 4.60m, after her husband and coach Rick Suhr reported on Twitter on Friday morning that she had woken up "coughing up blood."

The competition came hours after Russian two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who was barred from competing, announced her retirement and said whoever won would not have earned "a proper gold medal" due to her absence.

By Reuters

With files from CBC Sports


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