Tell them how you really feel, Mr. Lewis.
For a fourth straight Summer Olympics, the U.S. Men’s track team dropped the baton, literally failing to even medal in an event the US once dominated. Track and Field legend and nine-time gold medal winner Carl Lewis called Team USA’s showing during the 4x100m relays a “total embarrassment” in a single tweet that sent shockwaves down timelines after watching the disappointing performance saying their performance was “worse than the AAU Kids,” he saw.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Lewis tweeted. “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 4x100m relay team, comprised of three of the United States’ fastest men, saw their chances to medal slip away due to a botched baton handoff between Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley. It took three attempts before the sprinters could finally get on the same page, but it was too late.
Trayvon Bromell, who currently holds the fastest 100m time in the world this year, along with Kerley and Baker, who finished second and fifth in the final, was unable to make up time due to the baton flub losing the final spot in the finals to Ghana by two-hundredths of a second.
Lewis continued to let the chopper spray in an interview with USA Today, saying, “This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared.”
“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,” he further added.
Despite getting off to a fast start during the relay, Team USA never looked good, failing to break from the middle of the pack during the first two legs of the race. When it was time for the pivotal baton handoff, Kerley was extremely clumsy during the exchange, forcing Baker to slow down to get a hand on it, losing precious time.
With just two legs remaining, the speedy Baker nor Cravon Gillespie had enough speed to make up the ground the time that was lust due to the terrible handoff subsequently leading them to not even qualify for medal contention.
Lewis highlighted Team USA’s ordering of its runners, zeroing in on Baker, saying he has never seen the athlete run a turn in his life.
“I’ve never seen Ronnie Baker run a turn in my life,” Lewis stated. “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?”
The baton pass, which is the most pivotal part of the relay, has been a thorn in the side of the US Men’s Track Team. The single act is usually the focus of other countries and is practiced for months or, in some cases, years before competitions. Following the disappointing performance, Baker was asked how much practice time the team had with one another? He answered, “Not Much.”
“We’ve been talking about this forever. 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,” Lewis further added.
He is not kidding either. In 2008, the baton went rolling down the track by Darvis Patton during a terrible exchange. In 2016 the U.S. team thought they secured a bronze medal only to learn they were disqualified because the baton pass occurred outside the designated zone.
Team USA definitely needs to fix this before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Photos: Patrick Smith/VCG/ERIC FEFERBERG/Getty