Allyson Felix and US teammate Tianna Bartoletta said their “hearts broke” for the China 4x100m women’s relay team who were controversially bumped from the final after the Americans were allowed to re-run their semi.
Felix’s team ran alone in surreal circumstances at the Olympic Stadium after officials ruled they deserved a second chance, having missed the final after being obstructed on a baton change by Brazil’s team.
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They stormed to victory in Friday night’s final, winning in 41.01 seconds, the second-fastest time ever. Jamaica were second and Great Britain third.
China had qualified eighth for the final but were bumped after the US re-run, sparking fury among their team and its fans.
“Of course [we have sympathy],” said Felix, who became the first woman to win five gold medals in track.
“It was a very unfortunate situation all the way round and our hearts just broke that a decision like that had to be made.
“Unfortunately you know running at that speed and getting hit by something is just a freak accident, and I really wish it didn’t happen the way that it did, but unfortunately it did.”
Bartoletta added: “I would like to advocate for nine lanes in championship stadiums just in case this happens because we don’t want to ever be responsible for somebody not achieving their own Olympic goals. “Our hearts did break, but at the same time it happened to us so it was one of those situations where there was going to be no good solution.
“Running out there on the track by ourselves was one of the most awkward and strange feelings we’ve had, at the same time China to have to miss out on the final that they ran for was really sad, we were really sad about that.”
The pair said they hadn’t had the chance to speak to the China women.
“We didn’t get to see them because of how everything played out, but hopefully we can,” added Felix.
However English Gardner struck a slightly more pragmatic tone than her teammates. “The rules are the rules,” said the two-time world championships silver medallist. “It wasn’t our intention to knock China out, but it was fair.”
China appealed the re-run decision but were rejected.
“It was hugely unfair to let the US team re-run on their own. Letting them run without any competition and disturbance on the track is very much different from how the other teams ran,” Xinhua quoted the team as saying.
“If we are really kicked out, where is clean sport?” Liang Xiaojing wrote on her Weibo before the re-run took place.
Article source: http://www.scmp.com/sport/china/article/2006514/were-heartbroken-china-says-victorious-usa-4x100m-relay-team-after