Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2016 Contents A59
August 21, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
RIO DE JANEIRO---Justin Gatlin,
Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers were
almost through parading the
American flag around the track---
celebrating a bronze medal of all
things ---when their names flashed
on the big board, along with two
The smile---gone. Those medals
---might be gone, too.
This nightmare---it never ends for
the US men in sprint relays.
Rodgers and Gatlin were ruled to
have passed the baton before the
start of the first passing zone in the
men s 4x100 relay won Friday night
by Usain Bolt and Jamaica. After
the disqualification, the bronze went
Tyson Bromell ran the anchor leg
and finished third behind Jamaica
and surprising Japan. The American
fell over the finish line and was nurs-
ing his injured foot while his team-
mates celebrated what they thought
was a bronze medal, which would
have been considered a debacle all
of its own back in the day.
At this point, they d take it.
The US protested the call. A deci-
sion is expected later Saturday
morning. If the disqualification holds
up, it will mark the ninth time since
1995 that the US men have some-
how botched the relay at a world
championship or Olympics.
"It s always something weird, stu-
pid, simple mistakes that always cost
us and I don t understand," said Gay,
who cost the US another medal, its
silver from the London Olympics,
because of a doping positive. "We
had great sticks in practice, great
everything and something so sim-
ple---I can t say anything but bad
Video replays show a clean hand-
off from Rodgers to Gatlin, but are
less clear about whether Gatlin had
taken possession of the stick before
Rodgers got it inside the start of the
20-metre passing zone. Rule 170.07
in the track and field handbook
reads: "The baton shall be passed
within the takeover zone. The pass-
ing of the baton commences when
it is first touched by the receiving
athlete and is completed the moment
it is in the hand of only the receiving
athlete. In relation to the takeover
zone, it is only the position of the
baton which is decisive. Passing of
the baton outside the takeover zone
shall result in disqualification."
Hours earlier, down on the track,
the runners huddled around a TV
monitor and nodded their heads
when they saw the replay.
"It was the twilight zone. It was
a nightmare," said Gatlin, who won
silver in the 100 sprint, but didn t
make the final of the 200 and could
go home empty in the relay, as well.
"You work so hard with your team-
mates, guys you compete against
almost all year long. All that hard
work just crumbles."
All those miscues for the country
with arguably the deepest pool of
sprinting talent, even with Bolt in
the mix, has cost them medals and
sent the team back to the drawing
board time and again.
Dennis Mitchell, who won the
relay gold at the Barcelona Games
but also has a doping past, is the
current coach. Whatever he was
teaching didn t quite hold up.
And this time, the way the Amer-
icans received the news was espe-
cially cruel. "Hell, we already did a
victory lap," Gay said. "Right before
we were about to talk to TV, they
told us." (AP)
RIO DE JANEIRO---No gold, no
glory. That s the way it is for the US
men s basketball team. The Amer-
icans, the standard in the sport since
winning their first 63 games after
it debuted 80 years ago in the
Olympics, are either winners or fail-
There is no celebrating silver.
When they say adeus to Rio, it can
be with only one thing around their
necks to deem the games a success.
"That s what we came here for and
we don t want to leave with anything
less than the gold medal," forward
Carmelo Anthony said.
Anthony and the Americans will
be playing for their third in a row
today when they face Serbia, a team
of heroes back home no matter what
the scoreboard says after 40 minutes.
They have restored the pride of a
basketball-crazed country, already
secured their first medal since becom-
ing an independent nation in 2006.
And as they whooped it up following
their 87-61 semifinal rout of Australia
on Friday, it was easy to think the
Serbs work was already finished.
Their coach won t let them.
"I know just two ways," Sasha
Djordjevic said during his postgame
press conference. "You just play bas-
ketball or you just play basketball to
win. You guys don t know me, but
my answer is B." Yet the Serbs deliv-
ered a happy-to-be-here performance
last time they had a crack at the
mighty Americans for a champi-
They teams met in 2014 in Madrid
in the Basketball World Cup final and
the Americans romped to a 129-92
victory, finishing a tournament where
they won by 33 points per game.
"Two years ago in Spain we get
into the game not mentally ready,"
Serbia captain Milos Teodosic said.
"We were too much happy that we
reached the final and we had that
experience and we cannot allow that
to repeat." The US isn t expecting it.
These Olympics have been way too
tough to believe they will end easily.
This US team, less talented and expe-
rienced then the last two gold medal-
ists, has already had four games decid-
ed by 10 points or less, including its
82-76 victory over Spain in the semi-
The close calls didn t play well back
home, where winning big in basketball
is the American way. But they were
just what this team needed to get
ready for its golden opportunity. "It s
made this journey a little sweeter now
that we re in the gold-medal game,"
star forward Kevin Durant said. "Now
we hit our stride against Argentina
and then we came back defensively
against Spain and played a good game.
We need one more game to keep it
up and we ll be fine."
Djordjevic played for Yugoslavia
back when Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc
and teammates were a basketball
power, too big, strong and savvy for
the college players the Americans
were sending. Yugoslavia beat the US
---coached by Mike Krzyzewski---in
the semifinals of the 1990 world bas-
ketball championship, the last major
tournament for the Americans before
NBA players arrived with the Dream
Team in 1992.
That ushered in an era of American
dominance that seemed to be return-
ing. The Americans rolled into Rio
de Janeiro unbeaten in 10 years, such
an overwhelming favourite that Djord-
jevic predicted early in the tournament
that it would be a "long way to go"
before somebody beat the Ameri-
Then his team nearly did it last
week. The Serbs provided the toughest
in a string of tough games for the
Americans, the US winning 94-91
when Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a
3-pointer at the buzzer.
"Serbia came within a whisker of
beating us in our pool play, so we
absolutely respect them," Krzyzewski
said. "We know how good they are."
Krzyzewski will be coaching his
final game for the US, set to be
replaced by Gregg Popovich after Rio.
He can break a tie with Henry Iba,
who led the Americans to two gold
medals but was their coach in 1972
when they lost to the Soviet Union
in the gold-medal game.
Coach K has led the Americans
back to the top.
They need one more win so he can
leave with them there.
"When the stakes are the highest
is when we all play the best and there
won t be any higher than on Sunday,"
guard Klay Thompson said. "Expect
a great effort from all of us." (AP)
Bronze gone? Another race,
another miscue for US relay team
American men's basketball team goes for 3 in a row
United States' Trayvon Bromell sits on the track after falling in the men's 4x100-metre relay final during the athletics
competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. AP PHOTO
Serbia's Miroslav Raduljica, centre, celebrates on the bench during a semifinal round basketball game against
Australia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. AP PHOTO
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