BEIJING (AFP) — Sanya Richards produced a stunning final leg to lead the United States to the women's 4x400 metres relay Olympic title here on Saturday as they timed 3min 18.54sec the fastest time in 15 years.
The victory compensated the 23-year-old Jamaican-born naturalised American for her disappointment in taking bronze in the individual event.
Russia finished second for the second successive Games while Jamaica took bronze also for the second Games running.
"I came to Beijing to get gold and I am so happy I have done that," said Richards, whose season last year was disrupted by illness.
"I was disappointed to get an individual bronze, so when I pumped my fist at the end that was a lot of frustration being released.
"We were happy to wear those new vests in the final, the red brought us luck."
Her team-mate Allyson Felix, who had taken silver in the 200m behind defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, was delighted to be leaving with a gold medal and also said the red vests had brought them some good fortune at last.
"We've (the Americans) had our ups and downs," said the 22-year-old.
"But we wanted to end on a high moment. The red vests gave us a new attitude. It was good it worked out.
"We knew Sanya would bring us home strong."
Richards had started well down on her opponents Anastasia Kapachinskaya after Tatiana Firova had overhauled Monique Henderson down the finishing straight of the third leg.
Kapachinskaya extended her lead down the back stretch and it looked to be an insurmountable task for Richards.
Coming off the bend there was still a sizeable gap, but Richards opted to go wide and bit by bit she reduced the Russian's lead, finally coming abreast of her with 20 metres to go.
Kapachinskaya dug deep and at one point looked like she had regained the initiative but Richards was not to be denied this time and passed her brave opponent to cross the line first, waving the baton in celebration.
There was to be no medal for 400m individual winner Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain.
She opted to run the first leg after running a feeble final one in the heat but the quartet never looked like medalling after the second leg had been run and finished fifth.
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