LONDON, England — The Jamaican women's sprint relay team ran a national record 41.41 seconds in last night's final of the Olympic Games women's 4x100m relays, the third best of all time, but had to settle for the silver medal behind the United States, who smashed a brilliant and almost flawless world record 40.82 seconds.
The Americans' time was the second world record to be set on the track in less than 24 hours after David Rudisha of Kenya broke his own 800m record the night before, removing the 27-year-old time of 41.37 seconds set by the East German team of Silke Gladisch-Moller, Sabine Rieger-Gunther, Ingrid Auerswald-Lange, and Marlies Gohr in Canberra, Australia.
Jamaica beat their old record 41.70 seconds, set last year while taking the silver behind a USA team that included three of the women who ran last night.
Ukraine, who had beaten Jamaica in Thursday's preliminaries, were third in a new national record 42.04 seconds.
The Jamaica team of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell Brown, and Kerron Stewart fought gallantly, but the Americans got off to a blistering start from Tianna Madison, while Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter did the rest.
The silver was Jamaica's 10th of the Games, just one shy of their record haul in Beijing, China, four years ago with two more finals to go later tonight as the track and field competition comes to a close.
Simpson, who was part of the last Jamaican team to win an Olympic gold in Athens in 2004, said they were all happy for the medal. "Of course we are happy, we are going on the podium, of course we have to be happy," she said, before adding that if they had more time to practise they would be able to run even faster.
"We are happy, we are very happy with how we ran, we just need to get together more, practise more and once we are able to do that we will be able to run better. For the practice that we did, we really did well, and we just have to continue to work hard," she said. "41.41 seconds is amazing and just to see the little time we had together that was really a good time for us."
Stewart supported Simpson, saying: "There is a reason why there are three medals and if we should only be happy with gold they should just scrap the silver and bonze and just hand out the gold."
Meanwhile, Jamaica could close the Olympics with two more medals tonight when the men's 4x100m team with Usain Bolt replacing Kemar Bailey-Cole on anchor and the women's 4x400m team contest their respective finals.
Yesterday the men's team of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Bailey-Cole showed off some well-executed baton changes to run a smart 37.39 seconds, minutes before the USA team of Jeffrey Demps, Darvis Patton, Trell Kimmons and 100m bronze medallist Justin Gatlin ran a national record 37.38 seconds for the world leading time.
Canada were second in 38.05 seconds, while Netherlands were third in a national record 38.29 seconds, both booking automatic spots in the final today.
Frater, who has been part of three gold medal-winning teams and two world record teams, said it was good to finally get to race. "We have been sitting down for two weeks, so it is finally good to get to run, but at the same time we got some rest as well."
The Jamaican male team captain said that he was "very excited to be out there" and promised the team will be much sharper (today). "We ran 37.39 seconds without any pressure or without Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, so that tells you how fast we can go."
Bailey-Cole told the Jamaica Observer he "felt really relaxed", and "I just went there to do my part".
The women's 4x400m team of Christine Day, who led off with 50.8 seconds, Sherifa Lloyd with 52.3, Shericka Williams with 51.07 and 400m finalist Rosemarie Whyte, who split 50.78 seconds, led all the way to clock three minutes, 2.13 seconds to beat Ukraine (3 minutes 25.90 seconds) and France (3 minutes 25.94 seconds) into second and third places, respectively.
At least one change will be made with 400m finalist Novlene Williams-Mills expected to anchor the team later today.