At TrackGirlz, our mission is to inspire and empower young girls through the sport of track and field, equipping them with health, academic, and social tools. As part of our commitment, we are excited to launch our “On Track to Paris” series, highlighting remarkable female athletes and teams who embody the spirit of what it means to be a TRACKGIRL. Our next feature in this series focuses on the extraordinary history and achievements of the USA Women’s Relay Team.

Meet the USA Women’s Relay Team

The story of the USA Women’s Relay Team is one of excellence and resilience. Since women were first allowed to compete in the Olympics in 1928, the USA Women’s Relay Team has been a dominant force, setting records and winning numerous medals over the decades. While the team’s history is expansive, let’s take a look at just some of the herstory. 

Team USA. Four women stand in their kit.

Early Achievements

The USA Women’s Relay Team made its Olympic debut at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, the first time women were allowed to compete in track and field events. The team won the gold medal in the 4×100 meters relay, setting a precedent for future success. The team of Mary Lou Thompson, Myrtle Cook, Fanny Rosenfeld, and Ethel Smith blazed the trail for generations to come.

Mid-Century Dominance

Throughout the mid-20th century, the USA Women’s Relay Team continued to build on its legacy. At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the team won the gold medal in the 4×100 meters relay with a time of 45.9 seconds. The 1960 Rome Olympics saw another gold medal performance, with the team of Wilma Rudolph, Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, and Barbara Jones setting a world record with a time of 44.5 seconds. This period marked the USA’s continued dominance in women’s relay events.

Relay team stands with arms around one another

Overcoming Obstacles

While the USA Women’s Relay Team’s list of accolades is extensive, their journey has not been without challenges. The team has faced and overcome numerous obstacles, including injuries, political boycotts, and fierce international competition. The 1980 Moscow Olympics, for instance, were boycotted by the United States, denying the team the opportunity to compete on the world stage. Despite these challenges, the team has always bounced back stronger.

Recent Achievements

In recent years, the USA Women’s Relay Team has continued to dominate on the global stage. At the 2012 London Olympics, the team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, and Carmelita Jeter set a world record in the 4×100 meters relay with a time of 40.82 seconds, breaking a 27-year-old record. The team followed up with another gold medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, solidifying their status as one of the best relay teams in the world.

World Record relay team

Success in the 4×400 Meters Relay

The USA Women’s 4×400 meters relay team has also enjoyed significant success over the years. The team won its first Olympic gold medal in the 4×400 meters relay at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Since then, the team has consistently performed at a high level, winning gold medals in 1984, 1996, 2004, 2012, and 2016. The 2016 Rio Olympics saw a particularly memorable performance by the team of Courtney Okolo, Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis, and Allyson Felix, who secured the gold medal with a time of 3:19.06.

2024: A Year of Record-Breaking Performances

This year, the USA Women’s Relay Team has shown incredible form leading into the Paris Olympic Games, breaking records and setting new standards. At the 2024 World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas, the women’s 4×100 meters team shattered their own 10-year-old championship record, winning the event with a time of 41.85 seconds. The team, comprising Tamari Davis, Gabby Thomas, Celera Barnes, and Melissa Jefferson, dominated the competition, winning by nearly a second ahead of France and Great Britain.

Women's 4x100m gold medallists USA's Tamari Davis, Twanisha Terry, Gabrielle Thomas and Sha'Carri Richardson pose for portraits during a studio photo session on the sidelines of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on August 27, 2023. )

In the 4×400 meters relay, Gabby Thomas proved to be a key member of the team, running an impressive leg just 20 minutes after competing in the 4×100 meters relay. Alongside teammates Quanera Hayes, Bailey Lear, and Alexis Holmes, the team clocked 3:21.70, the second-fastest time ever recorded at the World Relays. Holmes, who anchored the team, ran a superb last leg to secure the victory.

The mixed 4×400 meters team also made headlines by breaking the championship record in both the heats and the final, winning with a time of 3:10.73, the fastest ever outside of a global championship.

Impact Beyond the Track

Beyond their athletic achievements, the USA Women’s Relay Team exemplifies the qualities that TrackGirlz strives to instill in young girls: hard work, determination, and leadership. The team’s success serves as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved if you just believe. 

Vision for the Future

As the USA Women’s Relay Team looks ahead to the Paris 2024 Olympics, their focus remains set on just one thing – gold. The USA Olympic Trials will be a key indicator of who will be selected for each relay pool that will be heading to Paris. Be sure to watch this space for all the latest updates.  

Women's 4x100m at the 2022 World Championships

About TrackGirlz

Founded by Olympian and USA Track and Field Women’s Relay Team Coach Mechelle Lewis Freeman, TrackGirlz is dedicated to equipping girls with the tools they need to succeed in life through the sport of track and field. With a mission to ensure all girls have equal access to safe, fun, and enriching physical activities, TrackGirlz fosters an environment where young athletes can thrive, build self-esteem, and develop leadership skills that last a lifetime.

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories in our “On Track to Paris” series as we continue to celebrate the incredible women who are making waves in track and field and paving the way for future generations.