Summary List Placement
A “clown show.”
That’s how legendary USA sprinter Carl Lewis described his country’s current crop of 4×100 meter relay runners after they failed to qualify for the event’s final at the Tokyo Olympics.
Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker, and Cravon Gillespie finished sixth in their qualifying heat on Thursday, posting a time of 38.10 seconds.
A botched baton transfer between Kerley and Baker after the second leg proved to be the team’s downfall.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, wrote on Twitter after the event.
“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.”
The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay. 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 .
— Carl Lewis (@Carl_Lewis) August 5, 2021
Lewis went on to say the USA’s performance was worse than some Amateur Athletics Union kids he has watched.
In a later interview with USA TODAY Sports, Lewis added: “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.”
The US men’s team hasn’t won a medal in 4×100 at the Olympics since Athens 2004, when it won silver behind Great Britain.
Results since then have been marred by mistakes. The team didn’t make the final at Beijing 2008 when Tyson Gay was involved in a bungled exchange, while it was disqualified from the final in 2016 for another bad baton pass.
In fact, since 1995, the team has given away a relay at an Olympics or world championships on 10 different occasions either due to a disqualification, a dropped baton, a faulty exchange, or a doping violation.
“The relay program has been a disaster for years because there’s no leadership and no system,” said Lewis.
“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.”