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: 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 Friday, 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, while Jeter completed a set, adding to her silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200.
"I just knew if we had clean baton passes that we would definitely challenge the world record. Smash it like we did? We had no idea," Madison said, "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.
Also, East Germany hasn't existed since the reunification of Germany in 1990.
"It's an absolutely unreal feeling. It just feels like for so long, we looked at women's sprints and the records were so out of reach. To look up and see we had a world record, it was just crazy," said Felix, who gets a shot at a third gold in the 4x400 final today. "I didn't think that was going to happen."
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 opening leg, and Felix the second. Then, with Knight approaching for the final handoff, Jeter took nine strides, reached her hand back and took a perfect exchange. Jeter was staring at the clock as she covered the final 10 meters - and she jutted 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."
The U.S. performance was part of a speedy night on the track, even if Usain Bolt wasn't around. The Americans and Jamaicans turned in two of the five fastest men's 4x100 relays in history to set up a showdown in today's final.
And in the 4x400, Ramon Miller of the Bahamas overtook Angelo Taylor of the United States to give his country its first men's Olympic gold medal in any sport. Miller powered the Bahamas to a time of 2 minutes, 56.72 seconds, 0.33 seconds better than the U.S., which had won that event at every Olympics since 1984. Trinidad and Tobago took third.
The United States was missing three injured runners, including Manteo Mitchell, who finished out his preliminary lap Thursday on a broken leg and was there to watch Friday, leaning on crutches.
"Without him, this wouldn't be possible," said Tony McQuay, Mitchell's roommate in the athletes village. "Sorry we couldn't give him the gold."
The South African team finished last, falling way behind before double-amputee Oscar Pistorius even got his hands on the baton for the anchor leg.
In the 4x100 semifinals, Justin Gatlin ran the anchor leg as the Americans broke a 20-year-old national record by finishing in 37.38 seconds. The old mark of 37.40 was initially established in 1992 with Carl Lewis on the last leg, and later equaled.
Jamaica ran 37.39 in the other semifinal - and that was without Bolt, who got a chance to rest a day after adding gold in the 200 to his gold in the 100 but is expected to run the anchor in today's final.
Jordan Burroughs had his eyes on a gold medal for months, and he let everyone know it. Then he delivered.
The 24-year-old American beat Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 1-0, 1-0 in the men's 74-kilogram freestyle division to give the U.S. its first wrestling gold in London.
Burroughs, has won 38 straight international freestyle matches and is the first Olympian to claim the $250,000 prize from the Living the Dream Medal Fund, a program designed to support U.S. wrestling.
Ous Mellouli of Tunisia won the grueling 10-kilometer race to become the first swimmer to win medals in the pool and open water at the same Olympics.
Mellouli pulled away from a small group of leaders in the fifth of six laps and finished in 1 hour, 49 minutes, 55.1 seconds in the murky waters of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. He also won bronze in the 1,500-meter freestyle last week.
Australian men Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, and New Zealand women Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie won the 470 class gold medals by overwhelming their British rivals on Weymouth Bay.
The Aussies lead the British 3-1 in golds, with only the women's match racing to be decided today. The Americans failed to win an Olympic sailing medal for the first time since 1936.
Russia grabbed the team gold medal for its fourth consecutive team victory and sixth straight overall gold.
The Russians totaled 197.030 points with a free routine featuring swimmers doing acrobatic flips and pirouetting like ballerinas above the water.
Ed McKeever of Britain clocked the quickest time over the heats and semifinals as the men's 200-meter canoe sprint made its Olympic debut.
Under cloudless skies at Dorney Lake, the barrel-chested McKeever crossed in 35.087 seconds in his heat and then easily won his semifinal.
In the women's 200-meter event, Lisa Carrington of New Zealand and Natasa Douchev-Janics of Hungary set up a probable shootout in the K-1 final.
Park Chu-young scored to lead South Korea to a 2-0 victory over Japan for the men's bronze medal. Brazil and Mexico play in the gold-medal match today at Wembley Stadium.
American Steve Lopez, a five-time world champion, made an unexpected early exit in the men's 80-kilogram division. Lopez lost his opening match to Ramin Azizov of Azerbaijan, 3-2.
Lopez's sister later said on Twitter that her brother had a broken fibula.
Sebastian Crismanich of Argentina won the 80kg for the country's first London gold.
In the women's 67kg, South Korea's Hwang Kyung-seon retained the title she first won at Beijing, beating Nur Tatar of Turkey, 12-5.