Summary List Placement
The Team USA men’s 4×100-meter relay team is living through another nightmare in Tokyo.
On Wednesday night, the Americans failed to reach the final after finishing in sixth in their qualifying heat.
The race fell apart for the Americans during a botched handoff between Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker, running the second and third legs of the race, respectively.
While Baker held on to the baton and get back to running, the difficult handoff clearly slowed the team down at a crucial juncture of the race.
Closer Cravon Gillespe was able to run in contention with the leaders during the first stretch of the final leg but was quickly left in the dust.
China, Canada, and Italy are through to the final in men’s 4x100m relay. #TokyoOlympics
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 5, 2021
The top three teams automatically qualified for the final, but in Team USA’s heat, the fourth and fifth place finishers — Germany and Ghana — were also able to reach the final as the two fastest remaining teams from both qualifying heats.
Team USA was just 0.02 seconds behind Ghana, and the spot in the final that would have come with beating them.
For Kerley and Baker, it’s an especially disappointing turn. Both men finished in the top five of the men’s 100m final earlier in the games, with Kerley taking the silver medal. Speed is not an issue with these two. But the communication between them was clearly off and ultimately cost the Americans a spot in the final of a race they were heavily favored to win.
The disappointing turn of events is only the latest in a series of baton-related disasters that have struck the Team USA men’s 4x100m relay over the past few Olympics.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, a botched pass between Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay sent the baton clattering to the track, leaving the Americans out of the final.
Then in 2016 in Rio, Mike Rodgers made his pass to Justin Gatlin too early, resulting in a DQ.
Now in 2020, Team USA is living the same nightmare once again.
Legendary American runner Carl Lewis was not at all impressed with the team’s performance in Tokyo.
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
The runners themselves didn’t have much of an idea of what had happened either.
Two members of the U.S. 4×100 team spoke with the media in the mixed zone. Asked how much practice they had for this event, as a group, coming into today.
Fred Kerley: “Don’t know.”
Ronnie Baker: “Not much.”
— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) August 5, 2021
For now, Team USA will have three more years of practice until Paris 2024, where they can get another shot at a medal in a race they should be dominating.
At least there’s plenty of time to practice their handoffs between now and then.