Aug 6, 2021 - Sports

U.S. men's track woes continue in Tokyo

Trayvon Bromell. Photo: Pete Dovgan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image

Trayvon Bromell. Photo: Pete Dovgan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image

American men once owned the track, but what looked like a promising week in Tokyo has turned nightmarish in a hurry.

The state of play: In every Summer Games the U.S. has participated in, at least one man has gone home with a track gold medal. Just four events remain in Tokyo to keep that streak alive.

  • Friday: 5K and 4x400 relay heat
  • Saturday: 1500, 4x400 final, marathon

Driving the news: There have been some highlights, including Rai Benjamin finishing second in one of the greatest races ever. But what happened in the 4x100 relay was troubling.

  • The U.S. was favored to win gold, but finished sixth ... in their heat. Three of the four fastest men in the world teamed up and couldn't even make it to the final.
  • "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," Olympic legend Carl Lewis told USA Today.
  • "If you break it down, people were in the wrong legs, obviously they were not taught how to pass the baton ... I'm not blaming the athletes so much. This was leadership."

The backdrop: From 1920 to 2000, the U.S. won 4x100 gold 15 of 18 times. Since then? Just one silver medal in 2004, which would have been gold if not for a botched handoff.

  • 2008: Eliminated in qualifiers after dropping the baton.
  • 2012: Silver, which was later stripped after Tyson Gay was found guilty of doping.
  • 2016: Disqualified due to an illegal baton exchange.
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