USA Track & Field to conduct comprehensive review of all programs

Updated: August 22, 2008, 6:15 AM ET
Reuters

BEIJING -- The United States will conduct a post-mortem into a disappointing Olympic athletics performance that has seen U.S. sprinters eclipsed by their Jamaican rivals, the chief executive officer of USA Track & Field said.

"Once the Games are complete we will be conducting a comprehensive review of all our programs," Doug Logan said in a statement.

[+] Enlargewomen's relay drop
AP Photo/Anja NiedringhausAmerican Torri Edwards, left, is consoled by teammate Mechelle Lewis after dropping the baton in a women's 4x100 relay heat.
A miserable Games for a team that billed itself the world's best was highlighted by relay botches by both the men's and women's 4x100-meter teams on Thursday night.

"I, like all fans of Team USA, am extremely disappointed with the performance of our relays," Logan said, after the U.S. men's and women's 4x100 teams dropped batons in Thursday's opening relay rounds.

Logan said the review would be comprehensive, looking at all USA Track & Field's high performance programs.

One subject to be addressed, he said, would be "the way in which we select, train and coach our relays".

In remarks posted on his blog, titled "Shin Splints", Logan added the poor relay performance reflected a lack of preparation.

"These are professional athletes who are the best in their field, and anybody who ever ran a high school relay cringes when that baton hits the track," he said.

It is the first time since 1976 that the United States have competed and failed to win a sprint title at a Games. The Americans led the medals table at the 2004 Olympics and 2005 and 2007 world championships.

Forde: Rock Bottom

The two baton flops by the U.S. men's and women's 4x100 relay teams sent the message loud and clear: U.S. track and field has hit rock bottom, Pat Forde writes. Story

Jamaican athletes swept all four individual sprints, with Usain Bolt setting world records in the men's 100 and 200 meters.

"They [Jamaica] brought their A-game. I don't know where we left ours," said Lauryn Williams, who was involved in the women's botched relay exchange and missed out on a 100-meter medal after taking silver in 2004.

U.S. world champions were hard hit by the doom and gloom.

Men's 100- and 200-meter world champion Tyson Gay, still recovering from a hamstring injury at the U.S. Olympic trials, went out of the 100 meters in the semifinals.

Then a botched relay, in which teammate Darvis Patton and Gay failed to connect, added further frustration.

World women's 200-meter winner Allyson Felix and 400-meter favorite Sanya Richards also missed gold.

World 1,500-meter winner Bernard Lagat, a two-time Olympic medalist for Kenya, missed the final this time, his first in a U.S. vest. He will seek redemption in Saturday's 5,000 meters, where he is also the world champion.

The setbacks have implications beyond athletics, wiping out any chance the United States might have had of catching China for the Games's overall gold medals lead.

"We have to go back to developing our sprinters," high-profile sprint coach Bob Kersee, who led Dawn Harper to the women's 100-meter hurdles crown and Felix to a 200-meter silver, told Reuters.

"Whether it's the college system or just training and being prepared, we have to concentrate on taking it up to this level. We can be spoiled at times in the United States."

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