US men’s relay squad blasted after shock exit

Bromell and Co finish sixth in their 4x100m heat, which was won by China

The United States' 4x100m relay squad were left digesting another Olympic debacle yesterday, failing to qualify for the final after a performance that was branded a "total embarrassment" by Carl Lewis.

The American men arrived in Tokyo as favourites after a world championship victory in 2019 that raised hopes of a first Olympic 4x100m relay gold in 21 years.

But their dreams of ending that relay title drought were left in tatters after the US quartet of Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie finished sixth in heat 2 in 38.10 seconds.

A shaky baton handover between Kerley and Baker and a poor anchor leg from Gillespie condemned the Americans to elimination.

Though the US have suffered multiple disqualifications over the years, yesterday marked the first time an American 4x100m quartet have failed to make the Olympic final from a completed heat.

They have not taken the Olympic title since 2000, and last medalled in the event in 2004, when they won silver.

The latest flop earned a scathing review from American sprinting great Lewis.

"The USA team did everything wrong in the men's relay," Lewis wrote 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 (Amateur Athletic Union) kids I saw."

Leroy Burrell, a member of the 1992 gold medal-winning relay squad alongside Lewis, added: "I have no words."

Former Olympic 400m and 200m champion Michael Johnson was similarly scathing, saying the team had been inadequately prepared.

"Trying to get two people running full speed to exchange a baton within a 20-metre zone requires practice!" Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"Especially when you haven't won this event since 2000 due to drops and zone violations! Embarrassing and ridiculous."

Members of the US team were also left struggling to explain the latest entry in the Americans' extensive catalogue of under-achievement.

"We just didn't get the job done today, no excuses," said second-leg runner Kerley, silver medallist in the men's 100m final last Sunday.

Third-leg runner Baker, suggested that Kerley and his timings of 9.8sec are fast enough, but added: "Trying to time that up perfectly with a couple of practices is tough."

The Americans' heat was won by China in 37.92sec while Canada came second. Italy were third in 37.95. The other heat was won by Jamaica in 37.82, with Britain second in 38.02 and Japan third in 38.16.

There was also an upset in the men's 110m hurdles as Jamaica's Hansle Parchment (13.04) shocked America's Grant Holloway, charging through to win by 0.05sec as the world champion faltered. Jamaica's Ronald Levy (13.10) took the bronze.

Redemption for the American men came in shot put with Ryan Crouser hurling an Olympic-record 23.30m to retain his title, becoming the first US male to win a track and field gold medal at Tokyo 2020.

Teammate Joe Kovacs took the silver with 22.65m, while New Zealand's Tomas Walsh won the bronze with 22.47m.

In the men's 400m final, which the Americans once dominated, Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas won in 43.85sec, with Colombia's Jose Anthony Zambrano (44.08) and Kirani James of Grenada (44.19) winning silver and bronze respectively.

James, who won gold in 2012 and silver five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, is the first athlete to win three Olympic medals in the event. - AFP, REUTERS