Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dropping the baton

I figured something like this might happen to the U.S. men's and women's 400-meter relay teams. Especially after their collectively terrible performances in the individual 100-meter competition.

Dropping the baton happens more often than you'd think at this level - notably, the U.S. men's team did it at the Seoul Games in 1988 when it was a slight gold-medal favorite over the Ben Johnson-led Canadians. So, it's certainly plausible the relay snafus were simply a case of bad timing and worse luck.

But there's a nagging part of me that wonders if the Americans sabotaged their own chances to prevent a potential embarrassment against the Jamaicans in both races.

Don't think it didn't cross Tyson Gay's somewhat fragile mind that he'd probably have to hold off Usain Bolt on the anchor leg in the finals. It's probably better not to know for sure how that would have turned out, certainly for Gay.

If anything, the relay failures of the Americans unofficially cemented Jamaica's status as the preeminent sprint champs of the world. And really, we didn't need the visceral proof to know that.

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