For the fourth straight Olympics, the U.S. men’s team will fail to medal in the 4×100 meter relay, after placing six in qualifying on Thursday. Carl Lewis — a 10-time Olympic medalist — can no longer stay silent.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Lewis said on Twitter. “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.”
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
Sprinters Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker bobbled the baton pass between the second and third led, causing Baker to have to slow down, and the U.S. team was unable to recover as China, Canada, Italy, Germany and Ghana all qualified for the final.
“It’s a lot on our shoulders when we go out there and wear this uniform, because you’re expected to meet the expectation; you’re expected to get gold,” said Cravon Gillespie, who ran the anchor leg. “When you go out there and don’t even make the final, it’s crazy, man. It’s just crazy.”
“We just didn’t get the job done today. That’s all,” said Kerley.
The understatement of the year according to Lewis’ comments.
“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” Lewis said in a phone interview with USA TODAY Sports.
“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.”
Many have pointed to the lack of practice time together as the reason why the men’s team has fallen short in past years, making Lewis’ statement about the team being “ill-prepared” seem warranted. After the race, Kerley was asked how much the team practiced for the race and said “Don’t know,” with Baker saying “Not much.”
“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?”
“We’ve been talking about this forever,” Lewis continued. “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.”
The U.S. relay team has had years of struggles in the race.
In 2008, Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay dropped the baton on the final leg, and in 2012 the U.S. team had the silver medal taken away after Gay was found to be guilty of doping. In 2016, the men’s team was disqualified after a baton pass took place in an area where it was not allowed.
“I’m so frustrated because I’m so passionate about those three letters, USA,” Lewis said. “That’s why. I love my country. I love winning. That’s what gets me. How can we let the United States down so much in an unacceptable way like that?”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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