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In A Second Chance, U.S. Women's 4x100m Relay Team Nabs Slot In Final

It was a team that ran alone: The women of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team raced by themselves under the lights of Rio's Olympic Stadium Thursday, going against the clock for a shot at the final.

The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Morolake Akinosun needed a time better than 42.70 seconds to reach the final.

The women posted a 41.77 — the best of any qualifier, edging Jamaica at 41.79. The result means that China's relay team, which owned a slot in the final for more than seven hours, will be left out of the race.

The Americans now advance to the final — to be run on Friday at 9:15 p.m. ET — where they'll try to repeat as gold medalists.

The rare rerun of an Olympic race was granted upon appeal, after track and field's international governing body, the IAAF, agreed that the American team's preliminary heat had been spoiled by a runner's interference Thursday morning.

To make that determination, track officials reviewed footage of the preliminary race in which the Americans ran in lane 2, next to Brazil's team in lane 3. In the solitary race, the U.S. team again ran in the second lane.

Officials found that a Brazilian runner who was poised to receive her team's baton was on the edge of her lane — and that she swung an elbow out that hit Felix in the same arm in which she carried the U.S. baton.

China's runners did not compete directly with the Americans this morning, as they were in the other qualifying heat. Before tonight's makeup run, the American relay team's best time this season had been 42.61 seconds.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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