USA Relay Teams Take Early Exits With Embarrasing DSQs

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IAugust 22, 2008

What's the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, I might hit a thousand words.

Let's be completely frank about this. I know that we are winning medals, still lead the overall count, and by most accounts have a good track & field Olympics.

But I have to disagree, these Olympics have had failure after failure after mistake after mistake for the U.S. Olympic Track & Field team.

What happened with this team?  I could go on and on about all the problems, but I will just highlight the latest in embarrassments.


That is the worst sound in the world if your a relay runner.

Yes, one of the most important factors in running a relay is having fast runners—really fast runners. But it's not the most important.

The whole point of a relay race is to simply get that foot-long, three ounce piece of metal across the finish line.  That's it. Nothing less, nothing more.

That proved to be too difficult for Team USA Thursday evening.

First the men's team of Rodney Martin, Travis Padgett, Darvis Patton, and Tyson Gay ran in their first-round heat. A first-round heat, is all about running a smooth race and have good exchanges.

Exchanges one and two were no problem for Team USA. It seemed as though we would qualify and move on without any problems.

Then came the exchange of Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay.

CLINK!  Disqualification.

Gay later told his teammates that he accepts full responsibilities for the DSQ, but after watching the replay multiple times he might be taking on more than he deserves.

It seems from the replay that Patton places the baton in his hand and then attempts to readjust it, when he first feels the baton Gay goes into full speed. When the readjustments occurs, Gay is without the baton and Patton lets go...CLINK!

As if it couldn't get any worse, not even 30 minutes later the women had their first round heat with runners Angela Williams, Mechelle Lewis, Torri Edwards, and Lauryn Williams.

Lauryn Williams, if you remember, had the exchange problem with then track star Marion Jones in the 2004 Athens Olympics that lead to the Team USA DSQ.

What's the phrase? All good things come in twos?

Again, the first two exchanges went without any problems and the Americans entered the final 100 meters with a comfortable lead that would advance them to the finals.

This time, Williams' hand was there for the baton. Edwards just didn't put it there and when Williams grasped what she thought was a grip on the baton, Edwards pulled back and let go...CLINK!

Williams did run back, pick up the baton and finish the race, not caring that they had been disqualified. That was good to see at least.

But in her post-race interview, Williams blamed someone with a voodoo doll that doesn't like the United States and said that they ARE the best relay team in the world.

Well Lauryn, as these Olympics more than ever have shown, you've got to do your talking on the track.

Did you hear Lolo Jones blame something else when she hit hurdle number nine? Did you hear Walter Dix blame someone else when Bolt beat him in the 100m? dDd you hear Jeremy Wariner blame his new coach for not winning the 400m?

No they didn't. They performed their best and lived with the results or consequences, how ever you look at it.

Even USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan expressed his displeasure with the performance after receiving numerous e-mails from fans stating the relays were, "a reflective of lack of preparation, lack of professionalism, and of leadership."

In response Logan stated, "I agree dropping a baton isn't bad luck, it's bad execution. Responsibility for the relay debacle lies with many people and many groups, from administration to coaches to athletes. That's why, when these Games are completed, we will conduct a comprehensive review of all our programs."

Logan went on later to state that the United States has the ability to win gold medals in all track and field events, and that if we don't at least get one in any sprints or relays, these Olympics will be viewed as a disaster.

Mr. Logan, I'm right there with you.  If we have to be subjected to our athletes talking up their game all the time from the World Championships to NCAA Championships and to the U.S. Olympics Trials, then we need to see more bang for their mouths.

People can hate on Usain Bolt's attitude as they want, but the guy has backed it up all week long.

USA Track and Field at the conclusion of these Olympic Games needs to take a closer look at how they perform, how they practice, and how they deal with the results that don't want.

I understand that no country is going to simply give us gold medals because we are the United States. I know that most go through their training simply for the opportunity to beat us.

But if we are going to continue to tell the entire world that we are the best, then we better start showing it again.