Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who led Britain to a world title in 2017, was caught by Filippo Tortu right on the line and the 27-year-old was virtually inconsolable in the aftermath as he reflected on how close he had come to securing gold for Great Britain as Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu, Lorenzo Patta, and Tortu produced something of an upset to take the top spot on the podium for Italy by one hundredth of a second.
Speaking afterwards, Mitchell-Blake said: “Apologies if I seemed ungrateful at first – it's just we put a lot of work and effort into this and we believe we're the best quartet in the world and we wanted to display that when the time comes.
"We want to show the world we deserve to be on the platform we are.”
Richard Kilty added: “This man ran an amazing leg and he looked disappointed but this is a team, and he's been part of three of the fastest teams in British history. He's a legend and he brought us home in incredible style.
"We're Olympic silver medallists. In 20 years' time we will look at this as one of the best moment of our lives.”
CJ Ujah continued: "I’m used to doing that now. I’ve been doing it this whole cycle – a long cycle, five years. To round it off with a silver medal... I feel we’ve collected a medal at every major championships as a team. Super proud of these guys."
The Canadian quartet of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney, and Andre De Grasse completed the podium by taking bronze ahead of China’s Tang Xingqiang, Xie Zhenye, Su Bingtian, and Wu Zhiqiang.
Two-time world 110m hurdles champion Colin Jackson, summing up on BBC TV, said: “Nethaneel will be disappointed and feel he's let the team down, but he hasn't at all.
"Tortu just hunts him down and we've lost by one hundredth of a second."
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson added: “What odds on Italy? Kudos to them. I had Canada, Jamaica, GB... but not Italy."