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Usain Bolt praises ‘smooth’ Chinese relay; silver medallists note American contribution

By John Pye


BEIJING _ It only took moments after Zhang Peimeng crossed the finish line for the Chinese 4×100-meter relay team’s historic medal to be upgraded from bronze to silver.

Not long after that, teammate Xie Zhenye drew some laughs when he thanked the Americans for their contribution.

Usain Bolt anchored the Jamaican team to a big win, and was followed across the line by the United States and China, giving the host nation its first medal in the 4×100 at a major international meet. When the U.S. team was disqualified for an illegal baton exchange, China was elevated to silver and Canada got a bronze.

Bolt noticed the proficiency of the Chinese team, and wasn’t entirely shocked at their success.

“I was watching them in the warmup and I said to the guys, they have one of the smoothest baton changes I’ve ever seen,” Bolt said. “They came out there and they executed well. That’s one of the reasons they got a medal. Congratulations, well done.”

After the race, Xie was asked about the pair of two-month training camps that the Chinese relay squad spent in the United States.

“Our main task was to communicate widely with other athletes from America,” Xie said. “We also learned some theories which have broadened our viewpoints.

“The United States of America has helped us a lot,” he said, pausing for the laughter that followed. “We achieved in all aspects.”

The American men have been somewhat cursed in the relay over the last two decades, either being disqualified or failing to finish eight times at the worlds or Olympics.

But Zhang thought they talked a good game.

“The most important thing I learned in the U.S. training camp was how to keep calm and be part of a team even if we are serious rivals at home performing in the same events,” he said. “We’re happy to get silver medals. We had a lot of pressure before the race because the Chinese people expected a lot from us. But on the other hand they have been incredibly supportive to us.”

In Beijing, the crowd has had cause to celebrate.

Su Bingtian was already on a high after squeezing into an expanded nine-man final in the 100 metres on Day 2, qualifying in a national record 9.99. On Saturday, the 50,000-strong crowd at the Bird’s Nest sang to him to help celebrate his 26th birthday _ and the relay win.

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