Allyson Felix’s hopes of a fifth Olympic gold medal were left in tatters on Thursday when the United States failed to qualify for the final of the 4×100 metres relay after a botched baton exchange.
Felix was preparing to handover to English Gardner after running the second leg when her team mate went early and the former 200 metres champion tried to bridge the gap by throwing the baton.
The throw missed Gardner’s hands completely and American hopes of a wrestling back a title they once almost owned were over, to the likely benefit of Jamaica and Elaine Thompson.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored the Jamaicans to victory in the first heat in 41.79, opening the door for Thompson to sweep the sprint medals at the Rio Olympics.
Thompson won the women’s 200 metres on Wednesday to add to the 100 title she took from Fraser-Pryce earlier in the week and allowing her a shot at matching Usain Bolt’s feat in the last two Olympics.
The Jamaicans needed Fraser-Pryce’s blistering finish to hold off Britain, who were second fastest on the timesheets in 41.93 ahead of Germany, who won the second heat in 42.18 once the Americans had effectively eliminated themselves.
Ukraine finished third in the first heat in 42.49 with Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and China also going through to the final.
Dafne Schippers’ hopes of a relay medal to add to her silver from the 200 metres were dashed when the Netherlands could only manage sixth place in the first heat.