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(BBC) The failure of the USA’s 4x100m men’s team to reach the final at Tokyo 2020 was a “total embarrassment”, American sprint legend Carl Lewis says.
The United States quartet of Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie were sixth in their heat with a time of 38.10 seconds.
“The USA team did everything wrong in the men’s relay,” said Lewis.
“The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership.”
China won the heat in 37.92, with Canada second – just two thousands of a second behind – and Italy third in 37.95 as they qualified for the final.
Germany (38.06) were fourth and Ghana (38.08) fifth as they also finished ahead of the US in their heat.
In a post on social media, Lewis compared the US team unfavourably to the country’s young amateur athletes.
He wrote: “It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) kids I saw.”
The USA’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson was also critical of the team’s performance.
“This isn’t rocket science,” he wrote on social media.
“Trying to get two people running full speed to exchange a baton within a 20-metre zone requires practice!
“Embarrassing and ridiculous.”
Jamaica, Great Britain and Japan qualified for the final from the first 4x100m heat.
The US team won the event at the 2019 World Championships but have not won a 4x100m Olympic gold since 2000.
The last time they claimed a medal in the race at a Games was when they won silver in Athens in 2004.
“Honestly, I’m not even sure,” said Gillespie, when asked what went wrong for the team.
“We’ve definitely got to pick up for the worlds [championships] next year and the next Olympics because this is unacceptable.”
Kerly, a silver medallist in the men’s 100m final in Tokyo, added: “We just didn’t get the job done, no excuses.”