I see Jamaican fans in uproar over the women losing the 4×100-meter relay final to the US at the recently concluded 2022 World Athletics Championships. This result only reinforces the knowledge that superior foot speed is not a guarantee for victory in the event.
Over the years, including the recent world championships, the US men proved it. At one point, the French national team had the men’s 4×100-meter relay world record and not one single athlete on that team was in the top ten ranking for the 100 meters, while the US had many. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, US men came first, third and fourth in the 100-meter final yet lost to Great Britain in the sprint-relay final. Great Britain did not have a single athlete in the 100m final.
Now that we know that world records – or winning with superior footspeed – is not a given and we have that out of the way, let’s analyze the Jamaican team’s loss at the Eugene 2022 World Athletics Championships. I see so many Jamaican fans blaming the first leg for the loss, it makes my head spin. I think this view or opinion is utter nonsense. First, Elaine going off too early or running away from the incoming athlete happened before. Last year at the Tokyo Olympics she did the same thing, only this year, she is not as fast as last year. In looking at the numbers coming from World Athletics, the US was leading by .1 of a second by 100 meters and .36 of a second by the 200-meter mark. Expanded deficit can be attributed to the slowing down of the baton in the exchange zone and Elaine probably did not run up to expectations.
My question is, what part did the relay coach played in this? I distinctly remember reading that last year ,they switched Shelly-Ann and Elaine because Elaine was running away from Shelly-Ann during relay training. If that’s the case, what other adjustments did the coach make? Common sense would say that if Elaine was running away from Shelly-Ann, what would happen to the slower athlete that was starting? The starters for both last and this year were significantly slower than the rest of the team. If the starters are running extended meters to catch up to Elaine, the team will definitely not perform optimally.
If Elaine is leaving too early or too fast, did the coach adjust the marker and/or speak to Elaine about what was happening and the potential cost to the team? Elaine this year is not the same athlete as last year. Why put her on the backstretch when there is another athlete with significant superior speed who stands a better chance of catching up? The straight is where athletes can open up to their maximum speed so it follows that the ideal situation is to have both Shelly-Ann and Shericka on the two straights with Elaine on the third leg. Elaine is not a shabby bend runner.
The starter, Kemba is not to be blamed for what took place. Should Elaine be blamed then? I think not. The relay coach must have watched the video of last year’s race at some point. He/she must have seen what was taking place during the limited training they had. Arranging the team and making adjustments are the coach’s responsibility. If the coach is not capable, then blame those who gave the responsibility to the coach. Quite possibly, the coach used last year’s model without any adjustment.
Blaming Kemba is off-base. Apparently, the fans blaming Kemba do not consider the responsibility of the decision-maker in arranging the team and making corrections during relay practice. To see people on social media spewing ignorance and attacking the athletes is sad to say the least. If anything, the US athletes should be getting credit for turning up and running their hearts out as a team.
** The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.
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