USAIN Bolt completed his ‘triple triple’ mission by anchoring Jamaica to gold in the men’s 4x100 metres relay on his final Olympic appearance.
The Jamaican made it a clean sweep of 100m, 200m and sprint relay golds from three successive Games to bring his gold medal haul to nine.
Bolt, who after his 200m victory on Thursday night kissed Rio’s Olympic Stadium track goodbye following his last individual race at a Games, brought the defending champions home in 37.27 seconds.
The world’s fastest man signed off from his sport’s biggest stage in trademark fashion as he took the baton from Nickel Ashmeade and, knees high and arms pumping, stormed away from second-placed Japan to huge cheers.
Bolt raised his baton to the heavens as he crossed the line before embracing his team-mates, also including Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, before the quartet set off on a lap of honour, draped in Jamaican flags.
The world’s fastest man blew kisses to the stands. It was the end of an era.
This is not the Bolt of eight years ago, when he stormed to his 100m and 200m world records in Beijing, nor even of four years ago when he blitzed the field in London.
Age is catching up with him - the only thing that can it seems. He declared after his 200m success on Thursday night that his legs refused to go faster and he felt tired.
He turns 30 tomorrow but remains utterly dominant.
Last night’s relay time was slower than both of their previous Olympic triumphs. That is all relative, though. It was still the fourth fastest time in history.
Bolt said: “I’m just happy to have done what I came here to do. I’m just proud of myself.
“I have to give thanks to the guys, they really came through for me and I’m really happy about that.
“The pressure is real, but I look at it as an accomplishment. I enjoy pressure and I live for these moments.
“For me, it’s beautiful.”
Asked how he would celebrate, the renowned party lover replied: “I won’t celebrate now. I’m just going to go home and stay up late tonight, just talking and having fun.
“I’m just happy and relieved. I’ve done it and it’s unreal. I never knew from the start that this was going to happen to me and now it has it’s a brilliant feeling.
“I told the guys that if they didn’t come through for me I’d beat them up!”
The United States came home in third, but while they were still celebrating their bronze medal was disqualified, which pushed Great Britain up to fifth after they had struggled in lane one. The officials were clearly wanting their spot in the limelight as Great Britain’s 4x400 men’s relay quartet had earlier suffered a similar fate in what seemed to be a controversial manner, with protests sure to be ongoing through the night.
Great Britain’s women won their first Olympic 4x100 metres medal in 32 years, breaking the national record en route to bronze.
Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita arrived at the Olympic Stadium as a strong medal shot, having last month become the country’s first quartet to go sub-42 seconds.
That 41.81secs run at the Anniversary Games was beaten in Rio de Janeiro as they secured a first medal since Los Angeles 1984 in 41.77s.
Just four years ago they did not even a qualify a team to compete at their home Games.
In Brazil they were 0.76s off gold medallists America, who made the most of their reprieve in Thursday’s heats to win in 41.01 from lane one ahead of Jamaica.
Great Britain’s men’s 4x400 metres relay team appeared to see their Olympic medal hopes crushed as they were disqualified after cruising into the final in Rio.
The quartet of Nigel Levine, Delano Williams, Matt Hudson-Smith and Martyn Rooney came home first in their semi-final in two minutes 58.88 seconds, establishing themselves as strong medal contenders.
But shortly after leaving the track they were disqualified for starting outside the changeover zone, although it was not immediately clear on which leg the error occurred.
The women’s quartet are safely into tonight’s final.
Scotland’s Eilish McColgan finished 13th in the women’s 5,000m final in a time of 15:12.09. Vivian Cheruiyot won the race in an Olympic redord of 14:26.17, with Almaz Ayana, the Ethiopian who had smashed the 10,000m world record, reduced to a surprise bronze. Hellen Onsando Obiri took silver.
McColgan said: “I’m actually disappointed although it’s good that I am disappointed. At the start of the year if someone had said that, I would have taken it.
“I am disappointed I didn’t break into the field. I knew that the top six were almost unbeatable because their times were fast here but I thought I could make the top eight.
“Looking at the other girls’ personal bests I thought that I should be around the top eight and to come 13th, I’m really disappointed. I’m in better shape than that.
“To go and run 15:12, I don’t think I’ve done myself justice but it was good experience and that burst of pace, I’m not used to doing it and I need to mentally get ready for it.
“I am strong at the end and I come back but that middle section I really need to work on. I am trying to compete on 40 miles a week, I’ll be much more confident when I’m doing 60 or 70 miles a week.”