Matt Wisner wrote this piece on the 4x100m relays. The US Men’s 4x100m, with the fastest sprinters in the world, had a terrible handoff, relegating the US men’s team to a non-qualifying sixth place.
The women, on the other hand, can actually get a baton around the track and stay competitive. An interesting comparison.
Women’s 4x100m team took silver! @stuartweir, @justinlagat, @larryeder, @usatf, @euroathletics, @athleticsafrica, @WorldAthletics, @scotathletics, @britathletics, @running_network, pic.twitter.com/Pu0ijxN7cO
— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) August 6, 2021
In 4×100, American Men Fail to Qualify for Final But American Women Win Silver
By Matt Wisner
The U.S. has some of the best sprinters in the world. Nearly the entire field at the U.S. Olympic Trials had achieved the Olympic standard; there’s a depth that no other country can boast.
But the American men can’t seem to assemble a successful 4×100-meter relay team. They failed to qualify for the Olympic final in Tokyo when they placed sixth in their heat with a 38.10.
A botched exchange was the main driver of their demise; it happened between the second and third legs during the qualifying round Thursday and involved Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker. The bad handoff wasn’t the only problem though: Cravon Gillespie was simply outrun on the anchor leg. It was a narrow finish: 6 teams within 0.18 seconds. But the U.S. finished sixth out of those teams, and only five ultimately advanced.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Carl tweeted in response to the poor performance. “The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw.”
“I’m honestly kind of mad, not at these guys, they did what they could do,” the leadoff leg Trayvon Bromell told NBC after the race. “I did what I can do. I can really just speak for myself in a sense. Like I said, these guys did their job, I did what I could do. On the first leg, it’s really some BS for real, to be honest with you.”
There has been a weak American tradition in the short relay over the past 25 years despite having some of the best sprint talents in the world. In Rio in 2016, the Americans were DQed in the final. At the 2008 Olympics, they DNFed in the semifinal. And they’ve been disqualified in the event in three separate World Championships since then as well.
Rai Benjamin defended his fellow American sprinters who are receiving a lot of criticism from the media. “Our team is young, and a lot of people don’t understand that,” Benjamin told the media. “They’re just used to seeing the USA going out and winning gold. But they don’t understand that we’re in a transition period.”
The American women, alternatively, require no defense.
The team of Gabby Thomas, Jenna Prandini, Teahna Daniels, and Aleia Hobbs won the silver medal on Friday morning with a time of 41.45, only losing to the team from Jamaica that included all three medalists from the open 100-meters. Together, the Jamaicans ran 41.02, which is the third-fastest time in history.
One of Lewis’s critiques of the men is that they don’t have chemistry, that they hadn’t practiced enough together as a group. But for the women, that wasn’t a concern.
“We have great chemistry together,” Prandini said. “We’re really confident and comfortable with each other so we knew that whatever team we put out here we were going to get the stick out.”
And they did more than get the stick out: Their time was the third-fastest ever run by an American team.