The faster they are, the harder relays are.
The closer together the athletes are, the harder relays are.
The moment you attempt to place a stick in another person's hand among a group of people also trying to place a stick in another person's hand while all of you happen to be traveling at a high rate of speed...
Tonight was Relay Night on the track. There were semifinals in the 4x400m heats for both the men's and women's teams, and there were the finals in the 4x100m relay for both the men's and women's teams.
Relay has become a crutch for many teams hoping to get a medal on the track. Sometimes the problems start at the blocks, like it did for the Dominican Republic yesterday in the 4x100m heats. Sometimes it happens in the exchanges.
Okay, it almost always happens in the exchanges. About 95% of the time it's the exchanges.
Yesterday the US 4x100m women's team had an exchange problem with the Brazilian team next to it. Should they have been allowed to re-run the race on their own? Well, let's answer the question with another question: had a re-run ever been done before? No? Well, then maybe not. However, the US women's team didn't let it happen again, getting out to the lead in an outside track and not giving it up, even with Jamaica breathing down their necks.
However, a lot of men's teams had all sorts of trouble. In both of the relay events tonight, the team from Trinidad and Tobago were disqualified. In the 4x400 the teams from Great Britain and India were also disqualified and unable to compete tomorrow in the final.
Similar issues occurred in the 4x100m final. Including the aforementioned T&T team, the relay from the United States was disqualified and didn't win the bronze for which it was celebrating!
Why does this continue to be such a problem, not just for the US but for many teams?
It's all speed.
Speed can create all sorts of issues, and when trying to coordinate something while traveling at a high rate of speed, the issues only escalate. People have never run this fast before, and they're trying to figure out how to deal with the speed while still having proper exchanges.
But let's be honest with ourselves, America: the Jamaicans never seem to have issues when it comes to the relays.
Mini blurb time...
- Today's roundup:
- men's racewalking
- BMX cycling
- men's volleyball
- women's synchronized swimming
- women's rhythmic gymnastics
- equestrian jumping
- women's water polo
- women's field hockey
- men's handball
- women's soccer
- If you haven't looked at NBCOlympics.com yet, or are only watching the live events, know that they have live feeds of both Copacabana Beach and the Olympic Flame all day. Now they also have a channel airing all of the US's gold medal wins in Rio.
- People were calling Italy's win over the US in men's volleyball an "upset" but I was just upset that the US men had all sorts of chances to take sets but didn't capitalize on them. They gave that win away.
- On the flipside, the US women's water polo team refused to give anything away, winning their second straight gold medal pretty easily.
- Just an FYI if you didn't watch it: if field hockey goes into a shootout, it's not like soccer. Each team gets five chances, but when the offensive player goes up against the goalie, she has 8 full seconds to try to score, and she can rebound and take a second shot if time allows. I had fun watching the Great Britain-Netherlands shootout in their gold medal match.
- Marathons don't have a lot of rules. Step 1: run. There is no Step 2. However, in racewalking there are a ton of rules to make sure you aren't running!
- Some people were not fans of the relay introduction camera mugging that the teams (both men's and women's) did before the 4x100m relays. I personally loved them. But the US in both relays decided to be all stoic and non-fun-loving. If Jamaica can be goofy and still win gold, it's possible to have fun and win.
- Last Olympics I only saw the super-short BMX final race, and was shocked at its brevity. However, this time I watched a lot more. There's a time trial to figure out placement, three runs in the semifinals (so if you crash in one race you still have a chance to advance) and then a final run.
- Equestrian jumping makes the horses jump a lot higher than the event jumping earlier in the week! Those horses have legs!
- Just your reminder that synchronized swimming is exhausting and really, really difficult. There is so much strength, agility, and timing required, plus, you know, that whole swimming thing, too.
- Before each field event, there is a samba band that comes out on the field, and the finalists are introduced. I've seen some event participants dance along (I think it was men's triple jump), but they put all the hammer throwers around the circle with the band playing outside the pit, and those hammer throwers were not going to do any dancing of any kind. (I bring it up again: to be the best, does that mean you can't have any fun?)
They're starting to do the end-of-Olympics montages and I'm already starting to cry through them. If Sunday comes and they release one to the music of Remember the Titans I'm gonna be a goner. I'll explain more on Sunday. Until tomorrow!