OPINION: USA Women’s 4x100m Relay Team Was Lucky To Get A Second Chance
The handoff between Team USA’s third leg and anchor, Allyson Felix and English Gardner, during the semifinals of the women’s 4x100m race in Rio required much examination last Thursday. Felix said she was bumped by a Brazilian runner Kauiza Venancio in the lane to the right of the U.S. I understand that these athletes can move up to about 20 mph, and at that clip any slight contact could cause a runner to spin out, but it didn’t look like enough to make her trip.
It looked like Felix was startled more than anything.
Venancio encroached on Team USA’s lane her feet didn’t cross the line but her arms swung into Felix’s lane. The replay shows the arm in Felix’s lane but it’s hard to tell how much Team USA is affected by the contact.
“I felt contact and it tripped my up” Felix said according to NBC News.
To Felix’s credit if there was any hope for them to protest the call they needed to finish the race, which Gardner did under Felix’s direction. The committee obviously found an infraction and disqualified the Brazilian team and subsequently Team USA got to re-run the race but had to do it solo with no competitors.
The ladies of the 4x100m Team USA are lucky they were granted an extra shot at qualifying for the finals instead of them being disqualified when the baton touched the ground.
I feel like they were given another chance because the committee didn’t want to endure the backlash from American teams and fans alike that would have occurred had they not granted them an extra chance. Peer pressure can be tough.
The U.S. ran the solo race in 41.77 seconds, the fastest time overall, bumping China from the finals, and well, we know the rest is history. Team USA won the finals with a time of 41.01, .76 seconds faster than their semifinal time. There was no way Felix was leaving without gold.
The U.S. deserved to be in the finals according to their timed runs, it’s not like they don’t deserve it, but they made a technical error in the race that could have cost them. There were plenty of disqualifications and plenty of petitions to the disqualifications at the Rio Olympics, Team USA men’s 4x100m and Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi in the steeplechase to name two. Both were disqualified for reasons that couldn’t possibly have given them an advantage over their opponents, but in these cases rules are rules.
The women’s 4×100 were lucky someone on the committee saw the arm swing as a hinderance and not as an arbitrary factor.