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An event that the United States previously dominated is now looking like “a total embarrassment” for Team USA – at least, that’s what one of its greatest legends thinks. Carl Lewis — who...
An event that the United States previously dominated is now looking like “a total embarrassment” for Team USA – at least, that’s what one of its greatest legends thinks.
Carl Lewis — who won nine gold medals in track for the U.S. between 1984-96 — slammed the men’s 4x100m team for its performance after to failing to even qualify for the final.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Lewis tweeted. “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.”
A botched baton handoff between Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley was the main reason for the disappointing effort. It took three attempts before the sprinters were able to successfully make the pass.
For the fourth consecutive Summer Olympics, the US failed to medal in the event, this year coming in sixth in its qualifying heat with a time of 38.10. Only the top five teams advance.
Even with three of the United States’ fastest men — Trayvon Bromell holds the fastest 100m time in the world this year, with Kerley and Baker finishing second and fifth in the Olympic final — the Americans never could regain their position in the race, losing the final spot in the finals to Ghana by two-hundredths of a second.
“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” Lewis said to USA TODAY.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s so disheartening to see this because it’s people’s lives. We’re just playing games with people’s lives. That’s why I’m so upset. It’s totally avoidable. And America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay.”
From the start, this relay team — who at one point were thought to be frontrunners in the relay — didn’t look in peak form, never breaking from the middle of the pack for the first two legs. When the baton pass happened, Kerley was so clumsy with the baton that Baker had to slow down to grasp it, losing the Americans vital time.
With two more legs to pull up, neither Baker nor Cravon Gillespie managed to find the speed they needed, taking them out of contention for a medal.
Lewis noted that the ordering of runners, particularly Baker, did not make sense and was poorly thought out by Team USA.
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“I’ve never seen Ronnie Baker run a turn in my life,” Lewis said. “Go back and watch the third leg, look at him, he looks like he’s running on ice because he’s never run a turn. He doesn’t run the (individual) 200, so why is he running a turn when he never runs a turn?”
The baton pass has been one of Team USA’s biggest struggles in the relay. Unlike other countries, which can spend months or even years perfecting passing, the rapid turnaround between the Olympic trials and the Summer Games makes baton passes less seamless. Baker said there was “not much” practicing as a team before the event.
“We’ve been talking about this forever. The relay program has been a disaster for years because there’s no leadership and no system. When I said everything is wrong, it is. If you break it down, people were in the wrong legs, obviously, they were not taught how to pass the baton in those legs. Just simple things like that. I watched it. I’m not blaming the athletes so much. This was leadership,” Lewis said.
In 2008, Darvis Patton send the baton rolling down the track after fumbling the pass. A 2016 baton pass occurred outside of the designated zone, disqualifying a U.S. team that thought it had just won a bronze medal.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Elizabeth Karpen