The latter almost didn't happen as during qualifying the US relay team dropped the baton on the second exchange. But the Americans appealed, saying a runner had been interfered with, and won.
But what to do? Officials couldn't just add them to the eight-team field for Friday's gold medal showdown. So instead the US was given a chance to run by itself to see if it could qualify on time.
An Olympic race with only one competitor. The US came through, running the best time and pushing China out of the final.
"It was different, it was really weird. But we walked out and people were cheering for us," Allyson Felix said. "I think it uplifted us a little bit and encouraged us."
Also Thursday Ashton Eaton wrapped up his second consecutive Olympic decathlon title
, a feat accomplished only by Bob Mathias of the USA and Great Britain's Daley Thompson.
Other US winners Thursday were 400-meter hurdles champs Dalilah Muhammad and Kerron Clement, and shot-putter Ryan Crouser.
By the way, that Usain Bolt guy won again
. He now has eight gold medals all-time, one short of the track record. His last 2016 Olympic race comes Friday night in the 4x100-meter relay.
More US swimmers head home as officials apologize
Ryan Lochte has insisted he and three teammates were robbed in Rio on Sunday but four days later it appears no one is supporting his story anymore.
Police say the group lied
, and the US Olympic Committee has apologized to the hosts of the Games and to all Brazilians for the behavior of the pool quartet.
And teammate James Feigen spoke to police Thursday and gave a revised statement, according to the USOC.
But while the USOC apologized and said one of its athletes had committed an act of vandalism, it also said the forced payment for damages came after armed security guards demanded restitution.
The other two swimmers, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, got their passports back Thursday and got the heck out of Brazil.
Teen wins platform gold
Chinese diver Ren Qian was born in this century. And at just 15 years and 180 days old, she's an Olympic champion
Winning big meets isn't new to her; she won the platform event at worlds in February.
"I'm young, but I got the medal," Ren said. "I think from now on I'll train harder, I'll work harder so I can focus on my future."
In case you were wondering, the youngest Olympic champion was also a diver -- Marjorie Gestring, who was 13 years, 268 days at the 1936 Olympics. That's slightly younger than China's Fu Mingxia, who won gold at Barcelona in 1992 when she was 13 years, 346 days.
British sailors to savor these Rio memories
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are enjoying this trip to Rio de Janeiro much more than their last one.
In December 2014 the two sailors from Britain were robbed at knifepoint during a training trip.
This time the duo felt more prepared as visitors and showed they were extremely prepared as competitors.
Mills was able to celebrate her victory with her mom.
"It's such an amazing moment to be able to share with everyone," the 28-year-old from Cardiff, Wales, said. "You're on the water doing it on your own, it's nice to be able to come in and see everyone."
Two more medal firsts
Jordan joined the list of medal winners Thursday when Ahmad Abughaush won gold for his nation in the 68-kilogram division in taekwondo.
"I can't believe it," he said, according the Jordanian Olympic website, after beating Alexey Denisenko of Russia. "I dedicate this medal to His Majesty King Abdullah II and all the people of Jordan. This is for you."
He also thanked his coach, his family and "all those who believed in me."
Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, just 18, became the first woman from Iran to win an Olympic medal. She beat Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden 5-1 to win bronze in the -57kg class.
Huge upset in wrestling
American Helen Maroulis won the first gold medal for a US woman in wrestling, and she beat legendary Saori Yoshida from Japan to do it.
Against Yoshida, a three-time Olympic champion and 13-time world champion, Maroulis was nearly perfect. She scored a takedown with 59 seconds left in the match and won 4-1.
"The opponent is stronger than me," Yoshida said after the match, according to the USOC
Maroulis said it was an honor just to wrestle against Yoshida and that she didn't pay attention to the high stakes in the match.
"And then when it was done, I was like, 'Oh, I get a gold medal now. Cool.'"
Both wrestlers dropped from their natural wrestling weights of 55 kg to the Games' new weight of 53 kg, and Maroulis said the weight loss was the hardest part of her training.
She said she skipped Christmas dinner and missed out on dinners out with friends.
So with a gold medal in hand and a victory over a wrestling legend, what's Maroulis most looking forward to now?
Gold medal roundup
Athletics, Men's 200 meters -- Usain Bolt, Jamaica
Athletics, Men's 400-Meter Hurdles -- Kerron Clement, United States
Athletics, Men's Decathlon -- Ashton Eaton, United States
Athletics, Men's Shotput -- Ryan Crouser, United States
Athletics, Women's 400-Meter Hurdles -- Dalilah Muhammad, United States
Athletics, Women's Javelin -- Sara Kolak, Croatia
Badminton, Women's Doubles -- Japan
Beach Volleyball, Men -- Brazil
Boxing, Men's Light Heavyweight -- Julio Cesar La Cruz, Cuba
Canoe Sprint, Men's Canoe Singles 200 Meters -- Iurii Cheban, Ukraine
Canoe Sprint, Men's Kayak Doubles 200 Meters -- Spain
Canoe Sprint, Men's Kayak Doubles 1,000 Meters -- Germany
Canoe Sprint, Women's Kayak Singles 500 Meters -- Danuta Kozak, Hungary
Diving, Women's Platform -- Ren Qian, China
Hockey, Men -- Argentina
Sailing, Men's 49er -- New Zealand
Sailing, Men's 470 -- Croatia
Sailing, Women's 49er FX -- Brazil
Sailing, Women's 470 -- Great Britain
Taekwondo, Men's 68 kilograms -- Ahmad Abughaush, Jordan (country's first medal ever)
Taekwondo, Women's 57 kilograms -- Jade Jones, Great Britain
Triathlon, Men's -- Alistair Brownlee, Great Britain
Wrestling, Freestyle 53 kilograms -- Helen Louise Maroulis, United States
Wrestling, Freestyle 63 kilograms -- Risako Kawai, United States
Wrestling, Freestyle 75 kilograms -- Erica Elizabeth Wiebe, Canada