After the United States won gold in the women's 4x400-meter relay, the men's relay team did the same Saturday night in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
LaShawn Merritt ran the anchor leg for the U.S. and crossed the finish line at 2:57.30.
|Men's 4x400-Meter Relay Final Results|
A gold was far from assured for the United States until Merritt took the baton. The 30-year-old was perhaps using his bronze-medal finish in the 400 meters as motivation Saturday. He opened up a healthy lead on the competition and closed particularly well in the final 20 meters.
As a result, it was an anticlimactic finish for the U.S. NBC Olympics shared a photo of Merritt finishing the race, with Jamaica's Javon Francis running in second place:
The U.S. Olympic Team celebrated the four runners responsible for bringing home gold:
As Ato Boldon noted on the NBC broadcast (via NBC Sports PR), Saturday's race was a redemptive moment for the team:
Botswana was running second for most of the race. Rather than using its fastest runner for the anchor leg, the country had Isaac Makwala run the first leg. That allowed Botswana to hang with the U.S. early on, and the duo of Karabo Sibanda and Onkabetse Nkobolo helped keep the team in the thick of the medal hunt.
But Gaone Leaname Maotoanong started fading down the stretch on the fourth leg, falling from second place to fifth.
Francis ran an excellent anchor leg to get Jamaica into second place after sitting in fourth following Fitzroy Dunkley's third leg.
Kevin Borlee nearly willed Belgium to a bronze medal with an incredible run in the anchor spot, and he fell to the track upon crossing the finish line. However, he was unable to chase down Chris Brown, who won bronze for the Bahamas.
"The guys made it easy for me," Merritt said, per Reuters' Nick Mulvenney. "We wanted this gold, I've been running a lot, but I was going to give that anchor leg all I had. Every man did his job, and we're bring that gold back to the U.S."
Borlee chose to go with a positive outlook despite coming so close to earning bronze, per Mulvenney: "It's hard now, but in a couple of days I think there will be only good memories. It's the Olympic Games, we had the chance to compete, we enjoyed it and hopefully we will be back."