Olympic Track and Field 2012: Pressure Is on for US Relay Teams

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Darvis Patton of the USA is consoled by team mate Justin Gatlin after he fell in the men's 4x100 metres relay final during day nine of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 4, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The United States Track and Field relay teams must have a stronger showing in the 2012 Olympic Games than they did in 2008.

While the 4x400-meter relay squads have been able to continue their dominance throughout the last couple decades, others have fallen off in recent Olympic relays.

For the U.S. 4x100-meter relay squads, 2012 is the climax on the road to redemption.

The men’s relay will be looking for revenge from 2008, when a Jamaica squad featuring Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, among others, won the gold. That Jamaican team also set a world record (37.10) with their performance that year.

The American team? Well they dropped the baton in the preliminaries and didn't even make the final, the first time they have failed to reach the final since 1912.

The women have been unable to attain the gold medal in the 4x100 relay since 1996. This drought began after a run of four straight golds for the Americans.

The drought was exacerbated in Beijing by—you guessed it—a dropped baton in the preliminaries, making 2008 the first year the women's 4x100 team hadn't reached the final since 1948.

No single country has been able to dominate this relay since, so the 2012 race is up for grabs.

The 4x400 men’s and women’s teams, on the other hand, are in the driver's seat. The pressure on them is not about revenge; it is pressure not to lose. 

The women’s team finished first in both Round 1 and the finals, but not by much. They finished only .18 and .35 in front of the second-place finishers.

This year will be no different; Sanya Richards-Ross and Co. will have to rise above it all.

The men’s team, which will be facing off against “The Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, among others, has had its recent success and looks to continue its winning ways in 2012. Pistorius’ inclusion, specifically, will shed an even more harried focus on this race.

The 4x400 squad were initially disqualified at the World Indoor Championships this March for an illegal exchange. Their gold medal was reinstated after appealing the decision. They'll need a clean, flawless race to take Olympic gold in London.

Regardless, the U.S. men’s and women’s relay teams have a golden opportunity ahead of them. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.