RIO DE JANEIRO — The U.S. team made the most of its second chance to qualify for the women’s 4×100-meter relay final, recording the fastest time of the day in a solo re-run before Thursday’s night session began.
The Americans were allowed to re-run the race after successfully protesting that Allyson Felix was bumped by a Brazilian runner in her handover in a preliminary heat, causing the team to drop the baton and finish last.
Re-running without any competitors on the track, the U.S. finished in 41.77 seconds, the second-fastest 4×100 in the world this season. The International Association of Athletics Federations said the U.S. would need to run faster than 42.70 seconds to bump slowest-qualifier China from the final.
In the preliminary heat, Felix seemed to stumble as she entered the exchange zone and could not catch third runner Gardner, flipping the baton in desperation. It hit the ground as Gardner and Felix crashed into each other. Gardner held her head in desperation as Felix went to pick up the baton and hand it over.
Replays of the race show Brazil’s third runner, Kauiza Venancio, start to pump her arms as she gets ready to receive the baton from Franciela Krasucki. Venacio’s left arm made contact with Felix’s right one and threw her off balance as she was attempting to pass to Gardner.
Felix let out a yelp as her flip missed its mark and the baton tumbled to the ground. She picked up the baton and told Gardner to finish the race — a heads-up move that may not have really changed anything, per the rulebook, but removed any doubt about the U.S team’s intention to finish the race. Anchor runner Morolake Akinosun finished but the Americans didn’t post an official time, listed as a “DQ,” until officials let them back in.
“I remember them telling us, if there’s an appeal, you have to make an effort,” Felix said.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, the Americans won the 4×100-meter relay gold medal in an Olympic-record 40.82 seconds.
Added Gardner: “We’re just gonna regroup, get ourselves together and go out and be able to compete in the final.”
ESPN’s Bonnie Ford and The Associated Press contributed to this report.