After Relay Fail, a Big Name Dresses Down Men's Team

Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis calls 4x100m race in Tokyo a 'clown show,' 'total embarrassment'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2021 8:39 AM CDT
Carl Lewis Torqued at Men's Relay Team Fail: 'Clown Show'
Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis is seen on the sidelines during the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl football game between Penn State and Memphis on Dec. 28, 2019, in Arlington, Texas.   (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

The US men's relay team was already disappointed they came in sixth in a preliminary 4x100m heat Thursday in Tokyo, losing their chance to take a spot in the finals. Making things worse: a scathing critique from track and field star Carl Lewis, who said online that the team "did everything wrong," per USA Today. What specifically did the 60-year-old Olympian with nine gold medals to his name—two of them won as the anchor for the 4x100m relay teams in the '84 Olympics in Los Angeles and the '92 Games in Barcelona, Spain—take issue with? "The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership," he noted in a pinned tweet. "It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the [Amateur Athletic Union] kids I saw."

Yahoo Sports notes it's the fourth Olympics in a row that the men's team didn't earn a medal "in an event they once owned." The biggest mishap in the race happened between the relay's second and third leg, when runners Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker messed up the baton pass. Trayvon Bromell, who ran the first leg, also got off to a slow start. What Lewis meant by athletes running the "wrong legs" isn't clear, but Yahoo calls it a "head-scratcher" that Cravon Gillespie was placed as the anchor and that Baker was made to run a turn. The outlet notes the American team also doesn't put in a lot of practice time, a fact that an "upset" Lewis, now an assistant track coach at the University of Houston, apparently touched on in a phone 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, noting that the race was a "clown show." He added: "It's just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay." (More Carl Lewis stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.