The USA men’s 4x100-meter relay team disappointed yet again at the Summer Olympics, this time failing to qualify for the final after a brutal sixth-place finish in Tokyo on Thursday.
The performance had Carl Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, ripping into the team, calling them a “total embarrassment.”
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” he 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.”
Among the most egregious of errors was a botched handoff between Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley at the end of the second leg of the relay, taking three tries for Baker to finally get the baton in Kerley’s hand in what was a blind handoff.
Despite the mishap, the U.S. was still in the middle of the pack but anchor Cravon Gillespie was edged out by Ghana for the final spot by two-hundredths of a second.
Lewis, who is also an assistant track coach at the University of Houston, had more to say in an interview with USA Today.
“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s so disheartening to see this because it’s 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.”
Lewis said it was a mistake to put Baker as the third leg because he does not run the 200-meter dash and does not typically run the turn.
“He looks like he’s running on ice because he’s never run a turn,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t run the 200, so why is he running a turn when he never runs a turn?”
Kerley and Baker even admitted afterward they did not practice the relay much.
This marked the fourth straight Olympics that the U.S. men failed to win a medal in the 4x100-meter relay.
In 2016, the U.S. was disqualified after finishing third due to a handoff that took place outside of the exchange zone.
In 2012, the U.S. was stripped of its silver medal after sprinter Tyson Gay’s doping case and in 2008 there was another botched handoff in which they dropped the baton, costing them a spot in the final.