LONDON -- Trell Kimmons' start was exactly what the United States' 4x100-meter relay team was looking for. The handoff from Tyson Gay to Ryan Bailey was textbook perfect. Bailey, all 6-foot-4 of him, ran the anchor leg brilliantly. The team's coach went as far as to call it "clockwork." And when it was over, the Americans equaled the world record of 37.04 seconds ...
... and still finished second to Jamaica.
Tying the best mark ever wasn't going to beat Usain Bolt, who pulled away from Bailey and finished Jamaica's relay in 36.84 seconds to set a new world record, continue Jamaica's impressive Olympic run and give the irrepressible Bolt his third gold medal of these London Games and his sixth in two Olympics.
Bolt's anchor leg, the final competitive steps taken on the Olympic Stadium track in London, was the electrifying highlight of a thoroughly entertaining week of track and field events. Great Britain got to celebrate one of its own winning gold one more time before the curtain fell, as Mo Farah edged Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel in the men's 5,000-meter final that was every bit as dramatic, perhaps more, than the men's 4x100 relay.
It was Farah's second gold medal after winning the 10,000 at the start of the track competition.
"I didn't want to have one twin have a gold medal and the other not have one," Farah said of the twins he and his wife are expecting. When someone asked Farah if it's possible he is now the greatest British distance runner, Farah said, "No. Pass up Coe? Seb Coe is a legend."
Farah was speaking of Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee and former middle distance runner who won four Olympic gold medals in 1980 and 1984. Modesty aside, Farah is wildly popular here in Great Britain. He and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who also won gold here, are probably the only athletes who rivaled Bolt in popularity, among the Britons, anyway.
Farah said of the support he received during his race, "It kept getting louder and louder and louder. Wow. I don't think I could have dug as deep without them."
One event that had absolutely no drama was the dominant performance of the U.S. women in the 4x400 relay. The American team of DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross decimated the field, including the Jamaican team that finished third behind second-place Russia. It was the third gold medal here for Felix, who said afterward, "I could not have asked for a greater Olympics." This relay gold came one night after Felix participated in another dominant performance, the dazzling gold-medal race with Tianna Madison, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter in the 4x100 relay. On Saturday, American Brigetta Barrett also won silver in the women's high jump.
Still, Bolt was the star of the week, as another 80,000 packed Olympic Stadium on what began as an 80-degree day, so rare in London, but turned into a cool and breezy night that didn't seem like ideal world record-setting conditions.
But the Jamaican team was up to it, specifically Yohan Blake and Bolt. As much as the U.S. runners thought they could win, as Justin Gatlin said, "The game plan was clear. Make good handoffs, get a good, clean handoff to Ryan Bailey and get him to hold off Bolt as long as possible."
Bailey, who, at 23, appears to be the emerging star among the U.S. sprinters, did more than that. He pushed Bolt, made him do something Bolt didn't have to do in the 100 and 200, which is to run at full speed right through the finish line. Bolt later noted he didn't have time to clown or pose. He wanted the world record in a way he didn't seem to care about in his individual events, likely because in a relay he is part of a team and wanted Blake, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater to have the honor.
With Bolt running so purposefully, Bailey said he found himself "running for my life," while hoping Bolt stumbled or somehow lost his unparalleled stride. "If you're going to run 36 seconds you deserve to win," U.S. coach Andrew Valmon said after the race.
The Jamaicans said the race was never in doubt, even before the baton got to Bolt. Frater recounted, "I knew once Yohan (running third) got the baton and he was right next to Tyson, the race was all over. It was just a matter of how fast we were going to run."
The U.S. men's team was left to celebrate smaller achievements, like helping Gay earn his first Olympic medal, like making clean handoffs with the baton and getting back to the point where the U.S. can seriously think about winning the event it used to own. The U.S. 4x100 relay team won gold 12 times in 13 Olympics beginning in 1920 and set world records five times between 1983 and 1992 with Carl Lewis running anchor.
But now, with Bolt running, Jamaica has won the relay in back-to-back Olympics and back-to-back world championships.
"We had to close the show with a bang," Blake said.