LONDON — Hampton's Francena McCorory will return to the states with an Olympic gold medal.
Her 49.39-second performance on the third leg of the 4x400 relay helped key Team USA to a first-place finish over Russia on Saturday at Olympic Stadium.
The U.S. finished in 3:16.87. Individual 400-meter bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter led off the relay in 50.5 seconds, 200-meter gold medalist Allyson Felix ran the second leg in 47.80 seconds before handing the baton to McCorory, who ran her fastest 400 time in her career. Individual 400-meter gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross anchored the U.S. in 49.10.
Russia grabbed silver in 3:20.23 and Jamaica bronze in 3:20.95. Ukraine (3:23.57) and Great Britain (3:24.76) rounded out the top five.
"I just wanted to play my part," said McCorory, a Bethel High and Hampton University graduate. "It was exciting to be part of this great team. We were pumped up."
The U.S.'s time was the third fastest 4x400 relay in Olympic history, topped only by the 1988 Soviet team's world and Olympic record 3:15.17 win at Seoul in 1988. A U.S. team anchored by Florence Griffith-Joyner ran second in 3:15.51.
It was the perfect Olympic ending for McCorory, who placed seventh in the individual 400, and her teammates.
"It was great running with these girls," said Felix, who'll leave London with three gold medals (she also ran in the world-record 4x100 relay). Her gold medal count is bested in women's track and field only by the famed "Flying Dutchwoman," Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four at the 1948 London Games.
"My goal was to go out fast, we were going for some records," Trotter said. "I'm so proud of my teammates. We're a great team."
Natalya Antyukh, the Russian anchor, already had struck gold in the 400-meter hurdles, and clocked a 49.67 lap in this one. She got the baton from Tatyana Firova, who ran 49.88.
"It is not easy to beat the Americans," Firova said.
It was Team USA's fifth consecutive Olympic win in the women's 4x400. Last loss was to The Soviet/Unified Team at Barcelona in 1992, when the U.S. earned silver.
1 3:16.87 United States
2 3:20.23 Russia
3 3:20.95 Jamaica
4 3:23.57 Ukraine
5 3:24.76 Great Britain
6 3:25.92 France
7 3:27.77 Czech Republic