Just making a constructive suggestion for our men's (and women's) track relay teams for the next Olympics-- it's pathetic that our senior level track stars can't seem to execute a simple baton pass that HS kids regularly do without problems.
The problems of the US track sprint relay teams are so reminiscent of the problems of the recent US men's international basketball teams-- too much talent, but too little teamwork and too little execution of basic fundamentals. Interviewed after the latest men's relay fiasco, Tyson Gay (who dropped the baton) was asked why the men had a problem with the baton exchange; Gay replied that the team had "practiced a couple days ago, and we were sharp"-- A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO! What the heck have these guys been doing with all their free time? Gay (like the other members of his relay team) hasn't even had a race since Saturday night-- don't you think he and these other prima donnas could have found more time (and reason!) to practice their exchanges recently more than once A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO!
We think we can just toss out 4 better sprinters than the other countries and just chalk up another gold medal. The US had won the 4x100 men's relay in 15 of 21 Olympic Games, and of those 6 misses, I'll bet I've seen the US be disqualified for failing to pass the baton in the passing zone, going out of its lane, or dropping the baton at least 2-3 times. Marion Jones (when she wasn't cheating with "the clear") managed to sabotage the women's relay 4 years ago, as well.
As bad as the exchanges always are for the US relay teams, the problem is even more maddening because usually (as was the case in both of today's races), the US team is so far ahead based on raw team speed, that the two exchangers could slow to a mere trot to ensure the baton pass happens without mishap, and still have the speed to win the gold medal-- they're screwing up needlessly, while leading the race by large margins. Yes, the Jamaican team has the speed to challenge the US in this year's games, but the Jamaicans weren't even in the US heats today, and the Jamaicans don't have smooth, high speed exchanges either. It's not like Phelps and the US freestyle swim team vs. the French, where the French had as good or better team speed as the US-- most of the time, all the Americans in the track sprints have to do is stay on their feet, in their lane, and pass the baton in the exchange zone without dropping it, and they are going to win the Gold Medal... seems like the perfect environment for Coach K to impose some of his patented leadership and discipline on a fractious, egotistical bunch of prima donnas.
I think you are being very hard on our track team. Their dominance extends back further than the basketball team's did, and this is one isolated occurrence, in the rain, no less.
I'm not saying that mediocrity is OK, I'm just saying that nobody wins all the time. Give the guys a break. I think the big problem for US track at this Olympics is the Jamaican team. That country has started putting resources into keeping its best at home and are now making life very difficult for US track. I think confidence is shaken. Give it four years and see if we don't come back determined and better than ever. Then, if we drop two batons in one night again, I'd say a pep talk from K might be in order.
it's not an isolated instance. The men dropped the baton in 1988 as well. Most of these runners are at the Games to win individual medals, and justifiably are going to concentrate on those events. Relay training needs to start after the Olympic Team is selected, no two days before the qualifying heats. And participation has to be part of the commitment to the team. It's not that hard.
U.S. basketball hasn't won anything yet.
to be fair, in both cases it appeared, and the announcer agreed, it was the passer, not the passee, who was at fault. They let go of the baton too early.
My Quick Smells Like French Toast.
First, in the women's race, the same woman dropped the baton in 2004.
Also, it seems that our track relay teams act as the swim relays do- the "B" team races in the early rounds, then the "A" team shows up for the finals. Can anyone confirm if this is what would've happened in the 4x100s? If so, perhaps this method should be dropped in favor of having consistency (ie same person handing off to the same person throughout all the heats)? Just a thought.
it has been reported that gay skipped almost all of the team practices where the team was stationed in china. i'm sorry, but someone senior needs to be in charge to say, you don't practice, you don't run. if you watched some of the "slower" teams, they had very crisp passes and were able to beat some of the "faster" teams with excellent execution on the passes. it makes a big difference.
i agree that high school kids usually can excecute passes, but it is MUCH more difficult when you are dealing with sub 10 100m runners versus 11+ 100m runners. the margin of error is much smaller when you are going that much faster. i'm not making execuses because they had all summer to work out the kinks and clearly they, no pun intended, dropped the ball here. that would be pretty funny if k were tasked with whipping these guys in shape in 4 years. i guarantee that he would do a better job than brooks johnson has despite not knowing anything about track bc he wouldn't put up with so much of the bs that these guys cause.
Regarding Coach K, I thought the same thing. The men dropped the baton in '92 as well. Are you sure you're not thinking '92 and not '88? I could go look it up, but I'm too lazy. The women dropped the baton in a World Championships too and denied my favorite female sprinter of all time, Evelyn Ashford, a gold medal in her last World Championships. The look on her face (she was running anchor, the drop happened from 2 to 3) was one of despair, hopelessness, and frustration. I felt it all too.
The team should practice this stuff and it never looks like they do.
As far as high schools practicing? We practiced all the time, every day. We had a drill called 'Endless Relay' with 5 runners running 100m at a time. You passed the baton then stayed where you were till it came back around again. I only competed the 4X400 relays in meets but boy could we pass that baton. Never dropped it once in 4 years of running track.