Jamaica kept Usain Bolt’s quest for his “triple triple” gold medal haul on track Thursday by qualifying for the final of the 4x100m relay.
The quartet of Jevaughn Minzie, Asafa Powell, Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole timed 37.94 seconds in finishing second behind Japan, who won in an Asian record of 37.68sec.
Bolt, rested for the qualifier, can join American Frank Wykoff (1928, 1932, 1936) as the only athlete to win three gold medals in the men’s 4x100m relay.
Bolt, who won the 100m on Sunday for an unprecedented third successive time, will run in the 200m final later Thursday.
Should he win that, the relay would hand the Jamaican the chance to join Finland’s Paavo Nurmi and American Carl Lewis on a record nine Olympic gold medals.
Jamaica will face a stiff challenge from the Americans.
Just minutes after watching their women’s team drop the baton in their race, the pressure was on the US men’s team to safely get the stick around the Olympic Stadium track.
With Justin Gatlin rested, Mike Rodgers, Christian Coleman, Tyson Gay and long jumper Jarrion Lawson did just that, winning in 37.65sec.
The United States have recently been dogged by a raft of changeover fiascos, their failure at last year’s World Championships in Beijing the most recent bungled effort.
The Americans have not won a major championship since the 2007 worlds in Osaka.
In seven out of the last 13 world championships the US men have either been disqualified or failed to finish.
Despite winning 15 of the previous 23 Olympic gold medals in the relay, the Americans have not claimed anything since 2000.
USA failed to finish in 2008 and was stripped of its 2012 silver after Gay’s positive drugs test.