(Photo Credit: © Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)
After the US men faced disappointment in the 4x100m relay when a DQ took away their bronze medal, this 4x400m became even more important. Add in the fact that in the last Olympics the US men only took home silver when they were usually perennial god medalists in the event and that they were fighting with rival Jamaica, this race held a lot of significance. Fortunately the US relay woes did not transfer over to the 4x400 as Lashawn Merritt ran away from the rest of the field in the home stretch to take the gold medal. Florida Gators Arman Hall and Tony McQuay kicked off the first two legs of the race. Hall, another member on the US track team on the younger end of the spectrum, was clearly honored by the opportunity to be the lead leg on this gold medal team.
"They told me to bring it out front, run my race model and make sure I have enough speed to come through the last 120 and bring it home strong. I did that. I'm excited, I'm blessed, I'm happy. I would never have imagined myself as a 22-year-old getting a gold medal in the Olympics, so it's an honor and a blessing."
Another member of the US track team that trains in Clermont, McQuay was part of the silver medal team four years ago so this meant as much to him as it did anyone.
"I'm definitely happy. This is an overwhelming experience for me. Four years ago, I was a silver medalist at this event, so to bring this gold medal home means everything. We classify ourselves as having the best quarter miler group in the world, so of course we are always going to try to live up to those standards of those quarter-horses that set the way for the young guys. We try to keep that legacy going."
The US women also had their fair share of issues in the 4x100 but they managed to bring home the gold despite that. They kept the hot streak going when Allyson Felix sprinted away from the field in the last 100m in similar fashion to Merritt. Over the course of this and previous Olympics Felix became the most decorated female track athlete in the history of the games. She had a few words to say about this honor.
"It's really special. I can look back at the things I've accomplished and be really grateful for what track and field has brought to my life. I'm very passionate about it and it's brought me a lot of joy."