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Athletics: Japan wins bronze in men's 4x100-meter relay

Japan's bronze medal winning team celebrate after the men's 4x100m final during the World Athletics Championships in London on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

LONDON (Kyodo) -- Japan won its first medal in the men's 4x100-meter relay at a world athletics championships, finishing third as four-time defending champion Jamaica's anchor Usain Bolt hurt his leg shortly after taking the baton and could not finish the race Saturday.

    Shuhei Tada, Shota Iizuka, Yoshihide Kiryu and Kenji Fujimitsu completed the final in 38.04 seconds to claim bronze. Britain took the gold in 37.47, while the United States got silver at 37.52.

    The relay bronze is Japan's first medal at the ongoing worlds in London and follows the country's silver-medal finish at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August last year.

    "I don't remember much about how I performed but I was able to run with a very good feeling," said Fujimitsu, who anchored Japan. "I was running thinking about going even just a split second faster. This is really great."

    Fujimitsu, who was in Rio but not named to the 4x100 relay team there, also said, "My desire to run in the event was fulfilled after a one-year wait."

    Japan raced in the final without Asuka Cambridge, who anchored the team in the heats earlier Saturday as well as in the final at Rio, and Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, who finished seventh in the men's 200 meters as the youngest finalist in the earlier this week.

    "I came here just for the relay," said Kiryu, a member of Japan's Rio relay team who also ran the third leg in London. "I felt some frustration (when watching others compete in individual events) so I was really fired up."

    Iizuka noted how much improvement good baton passes can make in their time, as Japanese runners in the morning heats struggled with the maneuver and clocked 38.21, the third in their group and sixth overall.

    Tada, who was first up, said, "My start was much better than during the heats. I was able to gain speed after that and perform to the best of my ability."

    Bolt, set to retire after these world championships, was well-positioned as he started running the final straight toward Jamaica's fifth straight title but the 30-year-old superstar started limping several steps later and could not continue running.

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