Butterfingers Plague Both American Relay Teams

That’s certainly a disappointing way to close out the Beijing Olympics. During preliminary races this morning (or is it yesterday afternoon? or tomorrow night?) both men’s and women’s 400M relay teams from Team America were disqualified after a good old fashioned case of oopsies.

men and women, dropping batons

For the men, it was the combination of Tyson Gay and Darvis Patton who couldn’t make the handoff, causing the men’s team to miss the relay finals for the first time since 1988. For the women, Lauryn Williams and Torii Edwards get the dunce caps, keeping the women’s team out of the finals for the first time since 1948.


In the men’s race, things were going smoothly for the United States through the first two legs. But when Patton closed in on Gay and Gay reached backward, they couldn’t connect. Patton made a final lunge to get the stick to Gay before he ran out of the passing zone, but as Gay’s hand closed, the stick wasn’t in it. It bounced off the rain-slickened track, and the crowd gasped. Gay said he felt the baton but “then I went to grab it and there was nothing. It’s kind of the way it’s been happening to me this Olympics.” Patton said he was every bit as much to blame.

“That’s Tyson Gay,” he said. “He’s a humble guy, but I know it’s my job to get the guy the baton and I didn’t do that.”

The new chief executive officer of USA Track & Field, Doug Logan, promised “a comprehensive review” of all of the team’s programs.

“Included in this assessment,” he said, “will be the way we select, train and coach our relays.”

The women were also in good shape heading into the final exchange, but Lauryn Williams didn’t receive the baton from Torii Edwards. It fell to the ground as Edwards screamed and covered her face with her hands.

“Heartbreaking,” Edwards said.

Unlike the men, who stopped racing, Williams scrambled back on the wet track to pick up the baton and complete the lap — more than 6 seconds after first-place Belgium finished in 42.92.

A “never give up” gesture if there ever was one, but the U.S. was disqualified.

It’s refreshing to see everyone taking blame or “never giving up” after their unfortunate handoff. (We win the gold in sportsmanship!) But as grandma used to say, “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BATON!!!”

As to any coaching changes that may occur from this debacle, may we make a humble suggestion?