RIO DE JANEIRO: The United States’ 4x100m women’s relay team won their solo race against the clock to book their place in the Olympic final Thursday.
The American quartet of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Morolake Akinsoun clocked 41.77 to eliminate China from Friday’s final.
It completed a surreal day for the reigning Olympic champions, who had earlier been left facing disqualification after a dropped baton exchange between Felix and Gardner in the morning heats.
The American women were thrown a lifeline however when replays showed that Felix had been knocked off-balance by Brazilian runner Kauiza Venancio as she prepared to hand off to Gardner.
The US team filed a protest and race officials duly disqualified Brazil — but ruled that the Americans must run again, in a highly unusual solo flying lap — to beat China’s eighth fastest qualifying time of 42.70sec.
The decision angered Chinese officials but their protest was later dismissed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).