A bad baton pass costs the Americans a bronze medal

By Steve Helling
August 19, 2016 10:55 PM
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The fastest man alive just anchored the fastest team alive.

The Jamaican team of Nickel Ashmeade, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell took the gold in the men’s 4×100-meter relay on Friday night at the Rio Olympics. By the time Bolt ran the anchor leg, it was clear that the team was running away with another gold medal – their third since 2008.

It’s Bolt’s ninth Olympic gold medal. Because of his dominance, the victory came as a surprise to absolutely no one.

But that was the only thing about the race that was unsurprising.

Japan’s relay team shocked the crowd by taking second place, crossing the finish line .02 seconds before Team U.S.A. In the arena, it appeared the Americans – Trayvon Bromell, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers – would have to settle for the bronze.

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The Jamaican team clapped and danced in glee, while the U.S. team embraced glumly.

But things were about to get worse for the Americans.

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After a review of the race, the team was disqualified for an improper baton handoff between Rodgers and Gatlin. Because the announcement in the stadium was made in Portuguese, the team didn’t realize it for several minutes, and continued walking around the arena with American flags draped over their shoulders.

After the disqualification, Canada took the bronze instead.

It’s the second consecutive time that the U.S. team was disqualified in this event: After initially winning the silver in London in 2012, the team was stripped of the medal after Gay tested positive for doping.

The team was clearly disappointed about the disqualification. “We did the best we could out there,” Gatlin told NBC. “This time around, there were no bobbles and no drops.”

“I’m proud of my teammates,” Gatlin said. “I’m glad to go out and compete with my guys.”