Usain Bolt's apparent Olympic farewell ran perfectly to script as he completed an unprecedented 'triple-triple' by leading Jamaica to victory in the men's 4x100 metre relay final at Rio 2016.
Rio 2016: Bolt, Cheruiyot among Friday athletics stars
Friday's track and field action featured an enthralling women's 5000m final and another gold for Usain Bolt in his likely Olympics farewell.
Bolt has said he plans to retire following next year's World Championships in London, meaning Friday most likely provided the final chance to see the most successful sprinter of all time performing on the grandest stage.
Fittingly, Bolt streaked clear of his rivals down the home straight to secure his ninth Olympic title and third of this Games, with Japan claiming a shock silver and Canada promoted to bronze when the original third-placed finishers, the United States, were disqualified. That decision was duly appealed.
While Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade and Bolt won the final race of the day, the USA were able to celebrate a gold medal in the women's 4x100m relay - long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie recording the second-fastest time in history, a scintillating 41.01 seconds.
There was a significant shock in the women's 5000m final as 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana dramatically failed to claim her second gold of the Games, Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot instead prevailing.
In the absence of world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, who announced her retirement on Friday having been among the many Russian track and field athletes banned from Rio 2016, Greece's Ekaterini Stefandini edged out Sandi Morris of the USA to take gold in the women's pole vault.
Reigning Olympic champion Jennifer Suhr finished equal-seventh, having been badly hampered by illness following her arrival in Rio.
The men's hammer final was won by Dilshod Nazarov - Tajikistan's first Olympic gold medallist - while Matej Toth and Liu Hong were the respective champions in the men's 50km and women's 20km race walks. The men's event saw world record holder Yohann Diniz finish eighth despite collapsing during the race.
While Bolt will rightfully claim the headlines, arguably the most dramatic action of the day came in Friday's first final on the track. Victory for Ayana - who shattered the 10,000m world record on her way to gold last week - looked to be a formality when she surged ahead with eight laps remaining, However, the Ethiopian faded badly late on and had to settle for bronze as Cheruiyot and Hellen Onsando Obiri timed their attacks to perfection and secured a Kenyan 1-2.
Cheruiyot's powerful finish saw the 32-year-old - so often the bridesmaid but never the bride in previous Games - set a new Olympic record for the women's 10,000m. Her time of 14 minutes and 26.17 seconds comfortably beat the previous mark set by Gabriela Szabo at Sydney 2000.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
"Hell, we already did the victory lap and then when we talked to TV, they told us. It has to be the worst luck for this country ever. It's always something weird, stupid. Simple mistakes always cost us," - Tyson Gay was far from impressed with the disqualification of the US 4x100m relay team.
"After I raced I was told I was disqualified. But after some time I was told I'm officially third place. It made me so joyful I jumped up in the air," - Hirooki Arai of Japan thought he had lost his bronze medal in the 50km race walk, but he was soon reinstated into third position.
"My fourth Olympics and I hadn't had gold. Today I said 'I am not going to lose'," - Cheruiyot rightly believed this was her time.
It is a case of finals only in the Olympic Stadium from now on. The final day of track and field action sees medals decided in the women's high jump, men's javelin, men's 1500m, women's 800m, men's 5000m and the two 4x400m relays. Mo Farah, Caster Semenya and Asbel Kiprop will be among the biggest stars on show.
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