Usain Bolt drew down the curtain on his brilliant Olympic career by securing a sweep of the sprint titles for a third successive Games when Jamaica successfully defended the 4x100 meters relay crown on Friday.
Two days before his 30th birthday, Bolt ran the anchor leg as the Jamaicans won in 37.27 seconds to add the relay gold to the 100 meters and 200 meters titles he had won for a third straight Olympics.
His ninth gold medal drew him level with Paavo Nurmi, the Finn who dominated distance running in the early 20th century, and American sprinter and long jumper Carl Lewis as the most successful Olympic track and field athletes.
"There you go, I am the greatest," Bolt told reporters. "I am just relieved. It's happened. I am just happy, proud of myself. It's come true. The pressure is real. I look at it as an accomplishment."
Ryoto Yamagata ran a blistering opening leg for Japan, who won a stunning silver for their first Olympic medal in the sprint relay in 37.60, improving the Asian record they set in qualifying.
Trayvon Bromell's dip for the line was so aggressive that he stumbled over and the United States thought they were settling for bronze in 37.62.
Usain Bolt through the years
Usain Bolt through the years
Usain Bolt of Jamaica turns to look at Andre De Grasse of Canada as they compete in the Men's 100m Semifinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, August 14, 2016. Kai Pfaffenbach: 'When Usain Bolt prepared for his 100m semi-final I decided to play with slow shutter speed for that race. I set my camera (shutter speed) to a 50th of a second and was waiting for the moment when he passed my position. At the very right moment he looked to his left with the proud smile and my first thought was: "hopefully I got this sharp." Well, I've been a lucky bunny in this case but I still would not have imagined at this moment that this picture would go viral and get worldwide recognition.' REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. SEARCH "2016 PIX" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
FILE PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after his team won the men's 4x100m relay athletics final in the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 22, 2008. Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals after Jamaica team mate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
Jamaican sprinter and GQ Man of the Year Usain Bolt poses at the GQ Men of the Year Party in West Hollywood, California, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 20: Jamacian sprinter Usain Bolt poses at the Daegu Bell prior to the lAAF World Athletics Championships, on August 20, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images for Puma)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 02: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning his men's 200 metres semi final during day seven of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 2, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 03: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates claiming gold in the men's 200 metres final during day eight of the 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Daegu Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - MARCH 06: Prince Harry poses with Usain Bolt at the Usain Bolt Track at the University of the West Indies on March 6, 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica. Prince Harry is in Jamaica as part of a Diamond Jubilee Tour, representing Queen Elizabeth II, taking in Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 04: (L-R) Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrate victory and a new world record in the men's 4x100 metres relay final during day nine of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 4, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Usain Bolt of Jamaica leads James Dasaolu of Great Britain in the Men's 100m Round 1 Heats on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Usain Bolt of Jamaica acknowledges the crowd ahead of the Men's 100m A race on day one during the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games - IAAF Diamond League 2013 at The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on July 26, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Sainsburys)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 11: Usain Bolt of Jamaica (C) crosses the line to win gold ahead of Kemar Bailey-Cole of Jamaica, Justin Gatlin of the United States and Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica in the Men's 100 metres Final during Day Two of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 11, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 11: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning gold in the Men's 100 metres Final during Day Two of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 11, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Jamaica's Usain Bolt wins the 100 metres final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 11, 2013 while a lightning strikes in the sky. Bolt timed a season's best 9.77 seconds, with American Justin Gatlin claiming silver in 9.85sec and Nesta Carter, also of Jamaica, taking bronze in 9.95sec.
AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 17: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 200 metres final during Day Eight of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 17, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 15: Gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica kisses his gold medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men?s 100 metres on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 27: Usain Bolt of Jamaica kisses the track after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men's 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Andre de Grasse of Canada (L) and Usain Bolt of Jamaica (C) react as they compete in the Men's 200m Semifinals on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 19: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after winning the Men's 4 x 100m Relay Final on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 01: Usain Bolt, sprinter, ninefold olympic champion and elevenfold world champion with green glasses during the Oktoberfest at Schuetzen-Festzelt /Theresienwiese on October 1, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images)
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The situation went from bad to worse, though, when they were disqualified along with Trinidad and Tobago. TV pictures showed Bromell stepping into Bolt's lane in the run to the line.
"I'm hoping we can an appeal of some kind, but we're seeing that the result is a disqualification, so I'm hoping we can appeal that," said former world record holder Tyson Gay.
Canada were elevated to bronze after their run of 37.64, a national record which gave Andre de Grasse his third medal of the Games after his bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200m.
It was the only medal that Bolt was going for that required the input of anyone else but Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade gave the double sprint world record holder the narrowest of leads at the final exchange.
That was always going to be enough, though, and Bolt powered down the straight to finish five meters clear of Japan's Aska Cambridge.
Gay was the last man to beat Bolt in a major championship final - in the 200 meters at the 2007 worlds in Osaka - and despite his disappointment at the disqualification he had nothing but praise for the Jamaican.
"He's a great sprinter," Gay said. "That's just self-explanatory. Words can't describe that type of a guy and what he's done for the sport. Everybody just appreciates what he's done."