USA stars fail to earn stripes in more athletics woe
The United States underwhelming athletics campaign suffered further blows on Thursday with favorite Grant Holloway beaten in the 110 meters hurdles and its men’s 4x100m relay team failing to qualify for the final.
There was some respite for the Americans in the shot put with a 1-2, Ryan Crouser successfully defending his title with world champion Joe Kovac taking silver as he did in Rio in 2016.
But there was more disappointment in the men’s triple jump.
Will Claye — favored at last to win a gold medal after twice finishing runner-up in the Olympic final behind Christian Taylor, who missed Tokyo due to injury — came up short in fourth place.
Gold instead went to Portugal’s Cuba-born Pedro Pichardo, who showed Claye how to transform minor medals into gold having previously won two world silvers when representing Cuba.
The USA came as ever with great hopes of dominating track and field but has just four titles thus far and missed out on the 100/200m sprint titles.
Their women’s 100 and 200m sextet yielded just a bronze — Gabby Thomas in the 200m — whilst the men managed two silvers and a bronze in the 100 and 200m.
Holloway was circumspect about having led till the final hurdle only to be overhauled by Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment.
Holloway reflected on how different and more imposing a stage an Olympic final is to the world championship final — which he won in Doha in 2019.
“I just think the nerves, the big atmosphere got the best of me a little bit,” said Holloway.
“But I’m young (he’s 23), I’ve got a lot of races under my belt so I’ll take this with a grain of salt and I keep moving forward.
“This was not the outcome that I wanted but it enables me to say I’m an Olympic medallist.”
Only Fred Kerley of the relay quartet will be able to leave Tokyo saying he is an Olympic medalist having taken silver in the 100m individual event.
The US quartet of Trayvon Bromell, Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie trailed in sixth in a time of 38.10sec, a performance US sprint great Carl Lewis branded a “total embarrassment.”
Though the USA has suffered multiple disqualifications over the years, Thursday marked the first time an American 4x100m squad has failed to make the Olympic final from a completed heat.
Kerley was terse in his assessment of their performance.
“We just didn’t get the job done today,” he said.
Britain’s performances on the track have also been hugely disappointing.
Their 200 world champion Dina Asher-Smith had pulled out of the 200m due to a hamstring problem earlier in the week but on Thursday she was fit enough to run a scintillating third leg of the 4x100m relay heat.
The British quartet won their heat setting a new national record of 41.55sec.
However, although they had both the USA and Jamaica behind them neither of those teams fielded their big guns.
Asher-Smith revealed after bowing out in the semi-finals of the 100m she had been running with an injured hamstring.
However, she said after Thursday’s run she was determined to line up in the relay.
“After the 100m I did say that there was no way that I wasn’t going to be here for the girls in the 4x100m relay,” said Asher-Smith.
“I’ve been training really hard this week, I only had one day off.
“It is just one of those things where I am chasing time and I need a few more sessions and I will be closer to where I am used to being.”
In the multi-discipline events Canada’s Damian Warner leads in the decathlon and Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam in the heptathlon with both coming to a conclusion on Thursday evening.
EXPLAINER: Athletics at Tokyo Olympics
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