GREAT Britain’s quartet of Eilidh Doyle, Anyika Onuora, Emily Diamond and Christine Ohuruogu impressively won bronze in three minutes 25.88 seconds and secured a first 4x400m relay medal at an Olympics for their country since Barcelona 1992.
Doyle had been rested for the previous day’s heats off the back of her 400m hurdles but came back in and ran a storming first leg to set the British team up beautifully.
The end result saw Ohuruogu, who showed her experience in the last leg to hold off the chasing pack, win a medal at a third successive Olympics and took the athletics team’s tally to seven, seeing them meet their UK Sport minimum target for Rio 2016.
Allyson Felix led the United States home for gold ahead of Jamaica,
Ohuruogu said: “It wasn’t about me, I just wanted a team effort and that’s [what we got]. “After the heats we knew a medal was up for grabs. It’s all well and good saying that but we actually had to come out and deliver and we really needed a strong performance from all the girls.
“They set me up in a good position and I just rolled with what they gave me. You always hope for more medals. I worked so hard for Rio – probably a bit too hard, overcooking things a little bit. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps after not making the [400m] final, so I had to lift myself up.
“I’m really proud of the team. For all of us it’s really nice to go home with something. The final bend is the danger zone because that’s where people calculate what they’ve got left for the finish straight. So I thought that I wasn’t going to wait and see who charged, I was just going to go.
“I felt like the devil himself was after me, that’s how scared I was.”
Diamond ran a storming third leg to set Ohuruogu up and said: “I’m on cloud nine. It has been a whirlwind. I’m a bit speechless and have been in tears. My mum’s been in tears. It’s just amazing. We came into this knowing we had a shot at bronze. The Americans and Jamaicans are just so far ahead, but we knew bronze was up for grabs.
“Christine gave us a pep talk in the call room telling us to keep composed and not to panic if things aren’t going to plan in the race. And we did that. To come away with a bronze medal is the icing on the cake for the season.”
Meanwhile, Martyn Rooney accused host nation Brazil of betraying the Olympic spirit after Great Britain men’s controversial disqualification handed them a place in the Olympic 4x400 metres relay final.
Mystery surrounded the team’s disqualification after winning their semi-final in emphatic fashion on Friday night.
The quartet of Nigel Levine, Delano Williams, Matt Hudson-Smith and Rooney came home first in two minutes 58.88 seconds, establishing themselves as strong medal contenders, but those hopes were soon dashed.
It emerged the reason behind the decision was that third-leg runner Hudson-Smith was deemed to have part of his foot outside the takeover zone when he started running.
British Athletics appealed, using video evidence provided by the BBC, but it was rejected after the footage proved inconclusive, meaning the officials’ original decision was upheld.
European champion Rooney claimed Brazil did not deserve to be in the final, with Trinidad and Tobago and India also finding themselves disqualified. Brazil went on to finish last in the final as the United States took gold.
“I don’t want to say it’s corrupt because we don’t know and I don’t have evidence to say either way, but it’s crazy how three teams are disqualified and Brazil have found themselves in the final,” said Rooney.
“I understand they ran very well for them, but they didn’t qualify for the final and that should be it.
“It’s not in the spirit of the Olympics to go and look to get people disqualified. I feel like Michael Conlan the boxer, (I) feel it’s a similar situation to that, but we don’t have proof of it. It’s a very bitter pill to swallow.”
Conlan launched a foul-mouthed tirade after finding himself on the wrong end of a highly controversial unanimous decision against Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in their bantamweight quarter-final.
Rooney admitted the team were “very bitter” and “very angry” at seeing their medal hopes crushed in such heartbreaking circumstances.
“It’s something I’ve never been through before,” he said. “I felt we haven’t done anything wrong, ran out of our skins and just had it taken away from us.
“It’s just a very odd feeling. We’re powerless to change it. Even though I know we’re in the right there’s nothing we can do about it, so it’s a tough position to be in.
“We proved we were in contention for a medal, so it’s very tough being in the village knowing that I’m not going to be able to race.”
Athletics’ world governing body the IAAF said in a statement: “The decision to reject the British protest was made late last night by the Jury of Appeal. Apparently it was a clear case.”
For Rooney himself it completed a Games to forget after he crashed out in the heats of the individual 400m.
“It’s been a terrible week for me,” he said. “Individually I can only blame myself and now for us to turn it around and have it taken from us from someone above is a horrible, horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”