Jamaica won convincingly, clocking a 1:29.04 World Relays record in the process to beat Germany, who clocked 1:30.68 for second place and the silver medal.
The Jamaican quartet –which also included Olympic 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Shashalee Forbes and Jura Levy– made up for another quartet’s botched exchange two years ago by putting on the finest exchange-and-carry display, extending their lead with each leg.
By the time Thompson got the baton, she was handed a full second lead, one she extended to more than a second-and-a-half before crossing the line.
“We came out and passed the baton around good,” said Thompson, whose homestretch display was reminiscent of her triumphant half lap run in Rio. “There was no pressure, we came on the track and do what we do. We made sure we secured a spot in the finals earlier tonight and just came and do what we do.”
While their exchanges were clean, the USA squad, the co-favourites coming in, was never quite in the hunt, struggling to eat up the gap that opening leg runner Levy and Jackson built and had to settle for third in 1:30.87. Further back, Trinidad and Tobago were fourth in 1:32.68 with Nigeria, the 2015 winners, was fifth this time in 1:33.08.
Earlier, Jamaica failed to qualify for the showcase men’s 4×100-metre relay final after dropping the baton in the heats.
For several years, it was the United States that crumbled under the extreme pressure that comes with the men’s sprint relay, but this time, it was their arch rivals Jamaica.
Competing in Heat 1, third leg runner Jevaughn Minzie took off early as Kemar Bailey-Cole charged down the back straight. But when he tried to place the baton into Minzie’s hand, it missed and crashed to the track, their hopes of reclaiming their world relays title from the US falling with it.
As a result of the dropped baton, Yohan Blake, on the anchor leg was left stranded.
“It was just a misunderstanding,” said Everton Clarke, their lead-off runner. “It happens in relays.”
As a result of the mishap, the Netherlands powered to victory in 38.71, a couple of metres clear of China (38.97), who also advanced automatically, and Australia (39.09) who reached the final as a non-automatic qualifier.
The final was the last event on the night and US went on to win the gold medal in 38.43 seconds, with Barbados getting the silver medal in 39.18. China clocked 39.22 for the bronze medal, while Canada, who had beaten the US in the heats, did not finish the race.
Meanwhile, Jamaica advanced to the women and men’s 400-metre relay finals, which are scheduled for Sunday’s second and final day.
In the men’s 4×400-metre heats, Jamaica qualified following a second place finish to Botswana in the third heat.
The Jamaican quartet of Jevere Bell, Javon Francis, Peter Matthews and Demish Gaye clocked 3:03.52, while Botswana took command from the outset to win in 3:03.09.
Trinidad and Tobago caused an upset in the second heat in 3:02.51 for the fastest qualifying time going into the final. Their anchor man Lalonde Gordon coming from several metres back to pass David Verburg of the US with just metres to run.
The US finished second in 3:02.62 to qualify with the second fastest time.
In the women’s 4×400-metre heats, the Jamaican quartet of Christine Day, Janieve Russell, Dawnalee Loney and Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, advanced to the final with the third fastest qualifying time of 3:29.93, which placed them second behind Poland (3:29.42) in the third heat.
The US won the first heat in 3:29.27 to advance with the fastest qualifying time, ahead of Poland.