U.S. Women's Relay Team
Wins Race Against the Clock, Qualifying for Final Following Baton Drop
Allyson Felix and the U.S. women's relay team will get to race in Friday's final at the Rio Olympic Games – after a dramatic day that included a dropped baton, an appeal and a race against the clock.
The rollercoaster started after he team was initially disqualified, when the baton was dropped earlier Thursday during the handoff between Felix and English Gardner.
After the race, Team U.S.A. filed a petition to protest the disqualification as Felix claimed that a Brazilian competitor in the next lane knocked her elbow just as she was about to hand the baton to teammate.
"I got bumped coming into the exchange zone," Felix said, according to USA Today. "It just completely threw me off balance. I tried to pull it together to get it to English. Maybe if I had one more step I could've, but I was falling as I was going to her."
After the baton dropped, Felix urged Gardner to pick it up, run her leg and continue the relay by handing the baton off to Marolake Akinosun, who finished the race in dead last. But by completing the race, the team established grounds for their appeal of unfair contact.
Later Thursday, track's governing body, the IAAF, announced that the team's appeal would be upheld – and that they would get another shot at qualifying in a timed solo race.
To qualify, the U.S. needed to run faster than 42.7 seconds, the time of the eighth-place team, China.
China later protested the appeal, but the IAAF stuck with the ruling. In a solo race Thursday night the Americans ran a 41.67 – the fastest qualifying time of the competition.
The team was an early favorite to win the relay, having won with a Felix-led team at the 2012 games in London. And until the mishap, they had been in a strong position to qualify for the final event this year.