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Drama on the track

Steve Hooker bombs out, runners fall over and a world record set in Canberra 27 years ago is broken, as Australia's sprinters prepare to take on Usain Bolt.

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Josh Ross struggled to bring himself to watch the men's 100m final. It was the sickness of feeling that he might have been there but for being refused the chance to run. He knew he would not have won it, but he might have made the last eight had Athletics Australia speculated on him.

On Friday night he ran angry, fuelled by the desire to prove a point, and anchored the men's 4x100m relay team, carrying the baton across the line and qualifying Australia into a surprise final tomorrow night. He will now get his wish to run head-to-head with the best.

"I was running down some guys that were in the individual and showed why I am called The Boss," he said.

Through to the final ... Josh Ross, right, anchors the team home.

Through to the final ... Josh Ross, right, anchors the team home. Photo: AP

"I would have come close definitely without a doubt [to the individual 100m final]. Who knows what I could have done? I believe I would have definitely made the semi, maybe the final with a low 10.0 high 9.9. It's definitely possible because that's the kind of shape I am in.

"I was tossing up whether I should even watch the 100s on tele. It was hard you know ... to turn up to training the next day with a big boot in your guts. But I am a man. I cop it on the chin. I am a professional and that showed tonight.

"I wanted to show them. Every time I step on that track I have a point to prove that I am the best that is. What I am out to prove to everyone and to myself, I use it as motivation."

Ross was annoyed that Athletics Australia did not nominate him to run the individual 100m despite his not having an Olympic A standard time, as they did with 400m runner Steve Solomon - who went on to make the final.

Australia, which last made the final of the 4x100m in the Athens games, clocked 38.17s, equalling the Australian record. They were the seventh fastest qualifiers for the final.

"Nothing is out of the question for us now," Ross said. "In relays anything is possible. It is a final."

"I want to say these are the moments that I live for, I breathe for, that I work hard for. Moments like this, my second Olympic final. This is why I am back, because of this rush, the crowd. I love this. I love the sport."

Relay team members often come from disparate backgrounds, and Australia's is no different. There is Ross, who quit racing for a time and worked as a topless barman in a strip bar. There is also Anthony Alozie, who came to Australia for the Commonwealth Games with the Nigerian team and liked it so much he stayed. A soccer player in Nigeria, he took up sprinting on a coach's advice. Tonight he thanked "God almighty for this moment".

Isaac Ntiamoah is an IT worker from Canberra who is of African descent, while Andrew McCabe was a junior touch football star.

"I'm 21-years-old and an Olympic finalist already so words can't describe how I feel at the moment," McCabe said. "I kind of expected to make the final. No one else did, but I always knew we would be here. Just got to come out in the final now."