LONDON - Eyeing the trackside clock as she approached the finish line, Carmelita Jeter pointed the black baton in her left hand at those bright orange numbers.
She wanted to make sure everyone saw what she saw Friday night: The United States was breaking the world record in the women's 4x100-meter relay - and it wasn't even close.
Allyson Felix, Tianna Madison and Bianca Knight built a big lead, and Jeter brought it home, anchoring the U.S. to its first Olympic gold medal in the sprint relay since 1996 with a time of 40.82, more than a half-second better than a record that had stood for 27 years.
"As I'm running, I'm looking at the clock and seeing this time that's like 37, 38, 39. In my heart, I said, 'We just did it!' I definitely knew we ran well," Jeter said. "When I crossed the finish line, I had so many emotions because we haven't been able to get the gold medal back to the U.S."
Felix collected her second gold of the London Games, along with the one she won in the 200 meters, while Jeter completed a set, adding to her silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, the U.S. didn't even reach the final after bobbling the baton in the last exchange in the semifinals.
"I just knew if we had clean baton passes that we would definitely challenge the world record," Madison said. "Smash it like we did? We had no idea, but I knew it was in us."
The American quartet erased the old mark of 41.37 run by East Germany in October 1985. Here's how long ago that was: Jeter was 5, Madison was a month old, and Felix and Knight weren't even born.
Jamaica won the silver medal in a national record of 41.41 seconds, with a team of 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 100 bronze medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart.
The bronze went to the Ukraine in 42.04.
Madison ran the first leg; Felix the second. As Knight came for the final handoff, Jeter took nine strides, reached her hand back and took a perfect exchange. Jeter stared at the clock in the final 10 meters, jutting the stick in that direction.
"I saw the huge lead that we have, and I looked up on the board and saw the time flash, and I was so confused," Felix said. "I was like, 'That is not a 4x100 time.' I was waiting, and then I saw the world record, and I was like, 'This is insane.' It was just a beautiful thing to see."
Afterward, the champion quartet watched a replay on the Olympic Stadium scoreboard. When Jeter was shown crossing the finish line, Knight punched the air.
In the 4x400 men's race, the Bahamas' Ramon Miller overtook Angelo Taylor of the U.S. to give his country its first men's Olympic gold medal in any sport.
Miller powered the Bahamas to a time of 2:56.72, 0.33 of a second better than Team USA, which had won the event at every Olympics since 1984. Trinidad and Tobago took third. The U.S. was missing three injured runners, including Manteo Mitchell with a broken leg.