Relays are a fine art. No matter how fast the quartet, it only takes one suspect baton-change for a team to be sent packing.
For Team USA, this is a familiar feeling. For numerous reasons in recent years, the Americans have been stricken with 4x100m performances that have been subject to disqualification.
Rio 2016 has not been a tournament to buck the trend with the latest US foursome being stripped of bronze. On this occasion, however; it’s was for a much less common and obvious reason.
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The 2012 Olympics had seen the USA scoop silver, succumbing to a world record time from Jamaica. However, after revelations regarding Tyson Gay’s doping at the time, the quartet were stripped of their ribbons.
For very different reasons, America were also disqualified at last year’s World Championships. Gay was once again involved, but this time it was his horrendous changeover with Michael Rodgers that saw the red flag raised.
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In fact, the 2013 World Championships in Moscow are the only time in the past nine years that America legally finished. Disqualification in 2009 and DNFs in 2011 and 2008 spell prominent heartache for the US.
Consequently, you’d think the Americans would put an unrivalled focus on their baton changes coming into the 2016 games.
However, this wasn’t the case as their first changeover proved the culprit with the passing of the baton being executed before the first yellow tick. In other words, it occurred illegally early.
It seems Rodgers was too keen to hand the stick over to America’s fastest asset in the form of Justin Gatlin.
It’s certainly rare that exchanges are red flagged in such circumstances. Given these are world-class sprinters; disqualifications usually involve late changeovers where the recipient has set off too early or fast.
Uncommon, maybe; illegal nonetheless though.
While the performance was poor even with the unfair advantage, it was still hard on the US quartet given their thinking that they had medaled. Maybe next time they shouldn’t be too hasty when parading around with the stars and stripes.
Is this the most heartbreaking moment of the 2016 Olympics? Have YOUR say in the comment box below