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Great Britain storm to surprise gold in men's 4x100m relay as Usain Bolt's big night ends in agony

Danny Talbot, Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and CJ Ujah ran a collective time of 37.47 seconds to beat favourites USA to first place

Samuel Lovett
London Stadium
Saturday 12 August 2017 23:23 BST
Great Britain upset the odds to claim a first major gold medal since the 2004 Games
Great Britain upset the odds to claim a first major gold medal since the 2004 Games (Getty)

One week ago it been Justin Gatlin, public enemy No 1, who had ripped up the script in villainous fashion. This time round, though, it was the turn of the hosts to flip the sporting narrative on its head as Great Britain stormed to victory in the men's 4x100m relay final here at the London edition of the World Athletics Championships.

It was a result few predicted and one that overshadowed Usain Bolt's final track appearance, which ended in agony after the Jamaican pulled up with cramp on the final straight at the London Stadium.

But while the image of the eight-time Olympian collapsed on the track nursing his leg, long after the race had finished, made for an unwelcome and unwanted sight, it was a night to remember for Great Britain's golden quartet.

Usain Bolt crashed out of his final appearance as injury struck him down in the 4x100m men's relay (Getty)

Danny Talbot, Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and CJ Ujah ran a collective time of 37.47 seconds to beat favourites USA to first place and claim gold - their first since Athens 2004.

The Americans were forced to settle for silver in 37.52secs while Japan claimed bronze.

"This crowd was amazing - this is the most fantastic feeling," Ujah said afterwards.

"We said we knew we could do it, but when we did it, we did it with a bang. I'm proud of these guys, we work so hard, including the team behind us at British Athletics, and it's just crazy to do it in London, our home-town."

"This is the best feeling in the world," said Gemili, overlooked for individual selection for the championships. "Thank you so much to everyone for supporting us. Thanks to the support team at British Athletics and the medical team."

"We're world champions, world champions," Mitchell-Blake added through tears of happiness.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake crosses the line to clinch gold for GB (Getty)

It was the 23-year-old from London who anchored his team to victory, pipping USA to victory on the finishing line with a well-timed dip of the head after Britain had executed their race to perfection.

It took some time before Britain's victory was confirmed, leaving the London Stadium in a state of frenzied anticipation, but once it was the 56,000-strong arena was sent into delirium.

As he roared with delight, Mitchell-Blake's celebrations recalled to mind Mark Lewis-Francis' cries when he crossed the line at the 2004 Athens Olympics to earn Britain sprint relay gold.

The tale since then for the men's GB relay team has been one of missed chances and baton blunders. But no more, and the joy amongst the team was evident at the finish.

For Bolt and Jamaica, it was a tale of disappointment on a night that was meant to bid a golden farewell to the sport's superstar.

Bolt pulls up with injury on the final straight (AP)

The 30-year-old pulled up on the home straight as he sought to chase down the United States and Britain, hobbling for a few strides before falling to the track.

His team-mates gathered round him and the 19-time global champion was helped to his feet and limped over the line, applauding the crowd as he did so.

Such a sight failed to dampen the spirits of the predominantly British crowd, though, who were treated to a late rush of medals on Saturday evening following a week of missed opportunities.

After Mo Farah clinched silver earlier in the evening in his 5,000m final, Britain's women's 4x100m relay team similarly placed second in what was another surprise result for the hosts.

Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita ran a time of 42.19 seconds to finish behind gold-winners USA.

"We've smashed it. We worked so hard for this. Us girls and boys have both done so well and we're so proud of each other," Neita said afterwards.

For Farah, it was a night of mixed emotion. Despite failing to defend his 2015 title, the Briton remained in high spirits as he reflected on his "incredible journey".

"It's been amazing," he said. "It's been a long journey but it's been incredible. It doesn't quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line – I had a couple of minutes to myself – that this is it."

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