American Women’s Track Outperform the Men. Again.
By: Eric Weinberg
Last Saturday, in the 4x100 meter world championships, the American men’s team didn’t win gold like their female companions but had to settle for silver.
Canada finished first in 37.48 seconds, just .07 seconds before America came rumbling over the line and .17 seconds before Britain did.
During the race, the atmosphere in Hayward Field was very stressful. Every runner was tight, fearing a mistake in the baton exchange. These mistakes were known to be common in the American relay teams, even at the highest level. Everybody held their breath as the U.S. team of Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, Elijah Hall, and Marvin Bracy passed the baton.
The race started out well for the Americans. They held a slight lead over Canada, though they were neck and neck, making easy work of the baton exchange zone. But at the final handoff, Elijah Hall struggled. He stumbled and just barely got the baton to the anchor leg, Marvin Bracy, falling over after completing the pass. Canada quickly took advantage of the wasted time and was able to pull ahead and win gold.
Marvin Bracy commented on the second-place finish after the race. He said, “It’s bittersweet. When you sweep the 100 and 200, you expect to come out here and perform better.”
The U.S. team was competing without the help of 100-meter world champion Fred Kerley, who was injured in the preliminary heats of the 200 meter. Though without Kerley, the U.S. team still featured all top ten global runners and were expected to go home with a gold medal.
This outcome was especially notable since it came soon after the American women’s team of Melissa Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini, and Twanisha Terry won gold in their 4x100 meter relay, finishing smoothly in just 41.14 seconds. They capitalized on a poor first baton pass by the Jamaicans, which proved to be unrecoverable.
The Americans were able to take out the heavily favored Jamaicans, who took gold at the Tokyo Olympics. But winning as an unfavored underdog was no new experience for the American women, as they had won 2 of the last 3 4x100 world titles and 2 of the last 3 Olympic 4x100 titles.
The American women’s track team outperforming the men is nothing new. The men have done very poorly in the 4x100, not winning an Olympic title since 2000. Between 2007 and 2019, team USA was disqualified twice, won two silver medals, and was not able to finish the race after American Davis Patton collided with another anchor leg. At the last summer Olympics, the USA had an embarrassing exit out of the preliminary rounds, which drew criticism from former track star Carl Lewis.
Somewhat like last Saturday, “The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” Lewis said after the Olympic preliminary rounds.