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Olympic Medal Count 2012: U.S. Men's Sprinters Must Look to Rebound in Rio

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Ramon Miller (R) of the Bahamas approaches the finish line ahead of Angelo Taylor of the United States during the Men's 4 x 400m Relay Final on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2012

The United States may have had a fantastic Olympic Games—namely the ladies of Team USA—but the sprinters on the men's track and field team were surely one of the biggest disappointments of the Games.

For a squad normally so strong, rebounding in time for the 2016 Rio Games is a must.

To clarify, I consider the sprinters those athletes that compete in the 100, 200, 400 and 800-meter events, including the relays. While I can't even sprint a 400, at the Olympic level, the pace on the 800 is still at an extremely high pace. Hurdlers are a different category in my opinion, so they won't be included here.

In the six events that comprise the sprinting portion of the Olympic program, the United States finished with just three medals. Justin Gatlin earned bronze in the 100, while the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams each earned a silver medal.

You can forgive the U.S. men for not faring so well in the 100, 200 or 4x100, where Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and the Jamaicans understandably dominated. It's hard to compete with a man like Bolt, the fastest recorded man in history, after all.

But the United States' failure in the 400 was shocking. Not only was the United States' streak of seven Olympics in a row with a gold medal in the 400 broken, but the Americans didn't even qualify a runner in the final!

Yahoo! Sports (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) put into perspective the full measure of that failure:

The 12 fastest men in the history of the event were all Americans prior to this week. The U.S. swept the medals in both Athens and Beijing, captured gold at the last seven Olympics and produced at least one medal winner at every Olympics since 1920.

In London, the dominance in the 400 came to a shocking end.

It wasn't much better in the 200 or 800, where the United States didn't so much as medal. It's only the second time since 1984 that the U.S. men didn't medal in the 200, though the 800 has never been a particularly strong event for the country.

The relay teams certainly gave it their best shot. Ryan Bailey had the slightest of leads on the last leg of the 4x100, only to see Bolt blow by him and set a world record with the Jamaican team.

And Bolt's been known to blow by a few people in his day.

In somewhat more surprising fashion, Angelo Taylor couldn't hold off Ramon Miller of the Bahamas in the 4x400 relay, and the United States had to settle for silver. It's the first time since the team boycotted the 1980 games that the U.S. hasn't won gold in the event.

Give that relay team this—they lost LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner to injury, then Manteo Mitchell broke his leg halfway through the team's qualifying race, though he finished to keep the U.S. in the event.

In that regard, a silver medal is pretty remarkable.

Still, it's hard to imagine the U.S. sprinters will look back on these Games as anything but disappointing. Surely, a big, fat bullseye has been put on Rio for any aspiring men's sprinters.

That's when the U.S. will look to regain its dominance in the sprints.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are gold like the Team USA women.

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