Carmelita Jeter pointed at the clock in amazement after the women’s 4x100-meter relay race. Her team not only won the gold medal, but they also set a world record. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
United States women's 4 x100-meter relay team members, from left, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix celebrate their gold medal win at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London. The team set a new world record of 40.82 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix combined for four gold medals and led the women’s team to a world record in the 4 x 100-meter relay.
When U.S. sprinter Carmelita Jeter crossed the finish line of the women’s 4x100-meter relay, she had a shocked look on her face. She certainly was not surprised that her team had won the gold medal, because she ran the bulk of the final leg of the race by herself as the American team had built a sizable lead.
Jeter’s reaction could only mean one thing. A world record!
The U.S. team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, and Jeter had pulled away from the field to finish with a time of 40.82. Jeter, who is from Gardena and attended Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance and Cal State Dominguez Hills, instantly knew what their team had done, because no other women’s team, ever, had run that race in the 40-second range.
That time was what brought the shocked look on Jeter’s face, as she pointed the baton at the clock and continued to run another 50 meters, converging with her teammates as they celebrated one of the greatest feats in track and field history.
The old world record was set by East Germany in 1985, when those women ran a time of 41.37. This current U.S. team beat that time by over half a second.
This victory put a cap on an Olympics that saw U.S. female athletes win a record gold medals. The U.S. team won 46 gold medals at the London Olympics, which is more than any other nation, with 29 of those medals coming from the women. If the American’s women team was its own nation, they would have finished ahead of every other nation except for China and they would be tied with Great Britain.
After Gabby Douglas led the way in the first week of the Olympics, Jeter and Felix took the baton for the second week and brought home more gold.
Felix, who is from Los Angeles, ran for Los Angeles Baptist High School and attended USC, has been chasing an Olympic gold medal in an individual race since she was 18-years-old, when she won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 200-meter dash.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she again came up with the silver medal in the 200, but that time she earned a gold medal while running on the 4x400-meter relay team.
Felix entered this Olympics looking to finally take home the gold in the 200, but before that she competed in the 100-meter dash, finishing in fifth place. In a photo finish, Jeter was given a silver metal with a time of 10.78, while Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was given the gold.
When the 200-meter dash came around, the fastest women in the world all lined up. Felix’s rival Veronica Campbell-Brown, the Jamaican sprinter who defeated her for the gold medal at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, was in the starting blocks, ready to defend her title. So was Jeter and Fraser-Pryce. Also in the race was American Sanya Richards-Ross, who won the gold medal three days earlier in the 400-meter dash.
Fraser-Pryce and Jeter had already defeated Felix in the 100-meter dash, but when the 200 started, there was no question what Felix was gunning for, as she was first off of the turn, and then she just had to hold off the field to finally achieve her dreams of winning a gold medal in an individual event. She won the race with a time of 21.88.
Fraser-Pryce took the silver, and Jeter picked up the bronze medal.
After the 200, Felix and Jeter were not done, because they were about to shock the world with the 4x100-meter relay.
Felix also went on to win another gold medal on the women’s 4x400-meter relay team, who won with a time of 3:16.87, making her the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Seoul Olympics to win three gold medals.
The most amazing part about Felix’s accomplishments is that she did it over a wide range of races. Most sprinters will either focus on the 100 and 200, or the 400 and 200. But to run all three distances on a world-class level is extremely difficult, and rarely done. Over the past year she has run a 10.89 in the 100 (Aug 2012), a 21.69 in the 200 (June 2012), and a 49.59 in the 400 (Aug 2011). That time in the 400 would have put her in contention with Richards-Ross (49.55) for the gold medal in that event.
Felix’s split on the gold medal winning 4x400-meter relay team was 48.1, compared to Richards-Ross’ split of 49.0. In fairness to Richards-Ross, she was running by herself for the bulk of the race, finishing almost three and a half seconds ahead of the second place Russian team.
Felix and Jeter have represented the United States well, and also the areas where they grew up.