Jamaica’s relay team ensured Usain Bolt would have the chance to go for a third successive sweep of all the Olympic sprint titles when they qualified for the 4×100 metres final at the Rio Games on Thursday.
With the 100m title already secured, Bolt will be looking for his second Rio gold medal in the 200m final on Thursday evening before backing up in the sprint relay on Friday.
His compatriots Jevaughn Minzie, Asafa Powell, Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole avoided scuppering the unprecedented bid by finishing second in Thursday’s second heat in 37.94 seconds.
With Bolt in the team, the Jamaicans have won the last two Olympic and last four world titles in the 4x100m, keeping the United States off the top of the podium in an event they once dominated.
The United States’ men’s team, unlike the women’s team, managed to get the baton around safely in the fastest time of the morning, with Tyson Gay giving them the lead coming off the final bend and Jarrion Lawson finishing the job in 37.65.
Asia provided the next two fastest times with Japan smashing the continental record in 37.68 to comfortably beat the Jamaicans and China setting a new national record of 37.82 to finish second behind the U.S. in the opening heat.
Canada were the fourth fastest qualifiers in 37.89 with Trinidad and Tobago (37.96), Britain (38.06) and hosts Brazil (38.19) rounding out the field for the final.