Nine-time Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis was full of criticism for the U.S. Olympic track team, which failed to qualify for the men's 4x100m relay final.
"The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay," Lewis tweeted shortly after the event. "The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw."
The U.S. team, which came sixth in its qualifying heat with a time of 38.10, has failed to medal in the event for four consecutive Summer Olympics and the disappointing performance came down to a botched handoff between Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley. It took three attempts before they were able to successfully make the pass and continue with the race and although Baker, Kerley, and Trayvon Bromell are three of the United States’ fastest men, they were unable to regain their position.
"This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared," Lewis said in an interview with USA Today Sports.
"It’s unacceptable. It’s so disheartening to see this because it’s people’s lives. We’re just playing games with people’s lives. That’s why I’m so upset. It’s totally avoidable. And America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay."
Lewis went on to criticize the relay program in general, which has "been a disaster for years" due to "no leadership and no system."
"When I said everything is wrong, it is. If you break it down, people were in the wrong legs, obviously they were not taught how to pass the baton in those legs. Just simple things like that. I watched it. I’m not blaming the athletes so much. This was leadership," he said, adding that he found the team's performance disheartening.
"I’m so frustrated because I’m so passionate about those three letters, USA," Lewis said. "That’s why. I love my country. I love winning. That’s what gets me. How can we let the United States down so much in an unacceptable way like that?"
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