OSAKA, Japan -- Tyson Gay won his third gold at the world championships. For Allyson Felix, it is two and counting.
With his ninth race in eight days, double sprint champion Gay ran a devastating final curve on the U.S. 400-meter relay team Saturday to set up his triple. Only Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene had previously won three golds at a single world championship.
"The 4-by-1 put the icing on the cake," Gay said. "This was the 'funnest' medal I got."
Felix can join the select group of triple titlists if she can help the U.S. 1600 relay team to victory on Sunday. The 200 winner won gold on successive days when the American women won their sprint relay late Saturday.
"It was my first relay tonight, it was a great feeling and I can't wait to do it again tomorrow," she said.
The women held back their celebration until the men streaked across the line in first place soon after. Then, they set up the biggest group hug of the week.
After winning the 100 and 200, Gay showed no fatigue as he set up anchor runner Leroy Dixon for victory over the favored Jamaicans.
"I'm extremely tired, but my teammates told me to go and do it one more time and get it done," Gay said.
As he handed the red baton over to Dixon, Gay screamed "go," urging the anchor runner on amid the din of the capacity 50,000 crowd of the Nagai Stadium.
And go Dixon did, doing enough to hold off surging world record holder Asafa Powell, who ran a blistering leg to earn Jamaica the silver.
Gay was already pumping the air before Dixon crossed in 37.78, 0.11 ahead of Powell. Britain was third.
The three golds set up Gay as the U.S. star heading into next year's Beijing Olympics. Lewis won three world golds in 1983 and 1987, combining the 400, 1600 relays and long jump. Greene's three gold were in the 100, 200 and 400 relay in '99. Lewis, of course, also won four gold at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
"I didn't come into these championships thinking about three gold medals," Gay said, arguing the rivalry with Powell in the 100 had created enough pressure as it was. "I think that's why I got it accomplished."
To make the U.S. night even better, Brad Walker won the pole vault by clearing 19 feet, 2¾ inches on his first attempt. France's Romain Mesnil took silver, jumping the same height on his second try. Germany's Danny Ecker took bronze at 19-¾.