USA's mixed 4x400m relay team is DISQUALIFIED at the Tokyo Olympics after Lynna Irby was ruled to have stood outside the zone when she took the baton from Elija Goodwin
USA's mixed 4x400meter relay team has been disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics after a handoff violation.
The US team finished first in qualifiers and breezed into Friday's semi-finals but a bad pass between 22-year-old runners Lynna Irby and Elija Godwin has stopped them from going for the gold.
The pair was placed on the team specifically to help get through the relay rounds but the ruling said Irby positioned herself 'outside' the zone to receive the baton from Godwin.
The US men have a long history of faulty baton exchanges in the Olympic relays... now the women do too and thanks to the 4x400m relay's debut in Tokyo, they've flubbed one together.
The race was practically invented to send a gold medal back to the United States but 'mistakes happen,' Godwin said. 'We are human. We do make mistakes.'
However, it's a mistake that might have cost Allyson Felix a chance to win her record 10th Olympic medal. She helped the US win this race in its debut at the world championships two years ago.
Now her opportunity to break a tie with Jamaican great Merlene Ottey for the most women's track medals in Olympic history will have to wait until next week in the women's 400. Felix could also race in the women's 4x400 next weekend.
'We came out and tried our best,' Godwin said. 'It was a complete surprise to all of us. We heard the news. All we can do is prepare for the future and see what happens next.'
Taylor Manson, the third leg, echoed that.
'We all put our best into it,' she said. 'I'm proud of everyone's effort.'
This was the latest chapter in a decades-long series of mishaps for the US in relays. Most have come in the shorter 4x100 relay where the pass is a more technical and time-sensitive move. Friday's 4x400 setback happened when the exchange should not have been nearly as difficult.
The relays were just seeming as though they had gotten their act straightened out, too, after the men won 2019's worlds championships and finished runner-up at the 2017 worlds.
But before that - lots of heartache. A 'DQ' at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games marked the ninth time since 1995 Team USA's men had botched the relay at a world championships or Olympics.
The women have a slightly better history: Felix ran the second leg and they set the world record in the 4x100 at the London Olympics in 2012. But they have not been immune to problems, either. They got shut out from the medals in 2004 and 2008 after misconnecting.
In 2016 Felix was on the US women's team that was initially disqualified from the preliminaries for an illegal pass in the 4x100. But they protested because Felix got jostled by another runner.
Hours later, they came back to the track to run a time trial with no other team on the track and advanced to the final, where they won easily.
But winning wasn't an option after Friday's mishap, which allowed Poland to top the time sheets.
Coronavirus protocols could have contributed to the mishap, which left the team with a lack of practice to get the timing right.
'We do have to be a lot more careful than any year before,' Godwin said before the relay.
'If at the end of the day we get DQ'd I know I'm going to hold my head up high because we went out and competed our best. I'm proud of all of our guys and girls.'
Going into the finals the event is set to be a fan favorite, featuring teams of two men and two women competing against each other in any order they choose.