The 4 x 100m Relay was going to be a showdown between USA, Jamaica, and Great Britain.
However, from my experience witnessed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, “Anything Goes” (the Irving Berlin song).
In Semi-Final 1, USA, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa all dropped or missed the baton and DNF’ed. Trinidad won in 38.26, followed by Japan in 38.52. Japan is currently ranked 4th coming into the Olympics.
In Semi-Final 2, Jamaica won in 38.31 with Canada a surprising second in 38.77. Will Canada relive the magic from 1996?
Usain Bolt did not run in this round for Jamaica, as they already have a solid team of Dwight Thomas, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell. Look for a substitution in the finals.
Great Britain and Italy were also casualties with disqualifications. 10 out of the 16 relay teams finished legally, with 8 advancing to the finals.
My only advice, as always, is just get the stick around.
Full coverage from NBCOlympics:
U.S. 4x100m teams both drop batons
Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay misconnected on the final pass in preliminaries of the 400-meter relay Thursday. Then, Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams did the same thing for the women’s team.
Two American gold-medal contenders didn’t even advance to the finals. Two more chances for the U.S. track team to turn around a disappointing Olympics were lost on the rain-soaked track at the Bird’s Nest.
“I take full blame for it,” Gay said of his bad exchange with Patton. “I kind of feel I let them down.”
The drop means Gay, the defending world champion in the 100 and 200, will leave Beijing not just empty-handed, but without even running in a final.
And Williams will now go down as the American involved in not one but two faulty Olympic exchanges that cost her team medals. In 2004, she misconnected with Marion Jones in the final and the Americans were disqualified for making the exchange outside the 20-meter handoff zone.
“If people want to assess the blame to me, that’s OK,” Williams said. “I mean, I can take whatever it is that people are going to dish out. We had good chemistry. The hand was back there. She was there. I don’t know what happened.”
Had they advanced in either race, the Americans may not have been favored to win gold considering the world records Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has set over the past week at the Bird’s Nest and the way Jamaica has dominated the women’s sprints as well.
Still, they would have been an interesting races. Not anymore.
The men’s relay team failed to reach the Olympic final for the first time since 1912. The women missed for the first time since 1948.
For teams like the United States, first-round relay heats are supposed to be about as routine as making the bed, filled with safe passes and no risks.
In the men’s race, things were going smoothly for the United States through the first two legs. But when Patton closed in on Gay and Gay reached backward, they couldn’t connect. Patton made a final lunge to get the stick to Gay before he ran out of the passing zone, but as Gay’s hand closed, the stick wasn’t in it. It bounced off the rain-slickened track, and the crowd gasped.
Patton leaned over and retrieved the stick. He and Gay spoke. Gay walked away, then Travis Padgett came over to talk to Patton, who carried the baton off the track to make room for the next race.
Gay said he felt the baton.
“Then I went to grab it and there was nothing,” he said. “It’s kind of the way it’s been happening to me this Olympics.”
The women were also in good shape heading into the final exchange, but Williams didn’t receive the baton from Edwards. It fell to the ground as Edwards yelled and covered her face with her hands. Williams went back to retrieve it and finished the race — but the Americans were dead last.
Gay, meanwhile, may not have even been running in the first round had he done better in the men’s 100. But he failed to make it out of semifinals — a stunner of sorts and a sign that the hamstring he hurt at Olympic trials may not be fully healed.
Gay skipped the American training camp in Dalian, China, earlier this month where the team spent two long sessions working on handoffs. American coaches said it was no big deal. Gay said he and Patton worked on exchanges in Beijing and didn’t miss a single handoff in practice.