Team USA, a favorite along with Jamaica in the 4 x 100-meter relay on the track, made the country collectively gasp when the second exchange between Allyson Felix and English Gardner failed, causing Gardner to drop the baton and earned the U.S. a big DQ in their heat. According to Felix, she felt contact from a Brazilian runner on her right, which obstructed the exchange and caused the baton to drop. Felix wasn’t injured, just very upset about the whole thing, saying, “I got bumped coming into the exchange zone, and it just completely threw me off balance,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “I tried to hold it together to get it to English.”
However, track fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as Team USA will get a second shot at the finals tonight upon the Jury of Appeals review of the exchange. (Brazil was disqualified for illegally making contact the U.S. runner.) They will re-run the event alone on the track, in the same lane as their first attempt, at 7 p.m. EST. They need to beat China’s eighth-place time of 42.70 to advance to the final.
The whole situation caused a small ruckus on social media, not just for the biff, but for the fact that this isn’t the first hiccup America has had in 4 x 100m events. U.S. teams, men and women, have also been DQ’ed in four of the six previous games for either dropping or passing outside of the designated zone. However, it’s definitely understandable when you’re running full speed ahead, having to time the quickest exchange without error inside a small window of opportunity that is the exchange zone, without slapping against another runner doing the exact same thing next to you.
This year the men’s team made it safely into the finals without issue. Here’s to hoping the women can recover from the unfortunate incident tonight!