Fri, September 20, 2013

Connaughton says rule is 'stupid'

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency


Canada's Jared Connaughton after finding out of his team's disqualification in the 4x100 metre relay at the London Olympics Saturday night. (AL CHAREST/QMI AGENCY)


LONDON - "It's a stupid rule."

Jared Connaughton was taking full responsibility for the disqualification of the 4X100 metre relay team but he wanted to take a bite out of the rule that cost Canada its 19th medal of the 2012 Olympic Games.

"It's unforgiving, this rule," he said. "It's not three steps anymore. It used to be three steps. Now it's one step. I'm not pointing fingers at anybody but there are a lot of stupid rules in this sport. There are a lot of rules set up to make you fail. The one false start rule is stupid. The one foot on the line rule is stupid. The sport sets us up to fail."

Connaughton, in his second Olympics, was clear that he was in violation of the rule that reads he had to remain in his "allocated lane from start to finish." His stepping on the line of the lane with his left foot was considered a clear violation, even though it in no way influenced the outcome of the race. "It's finite," he said. "The line is 2 1/2 inches wide. My foot is five inches wide. It's a game of inches. It's not three steps on the line anymore. They changed that. It used to be three steps. Now it's one."

Connaughton, who hadn't spoken to his teammates in any meaningful way immediately after the disqualifications wasn't going to meet with them until after Canada's protest of the rule was dealt with. Canada lost the protest, questioning the wording of the rule, but the protest was thrown out.

"I'll apologize," Connaughton said of speaking to his teammates. He hadn't spoken to his emotional mates in any detail as the Canadians were still waiting word of an unsuccessful protest.

"I'll look them all in the eyes and put it on me," he said, pounding his chest. "It's sports. They don't mail you the medal in the mail before you get here. You've got to earn it."

The Canadian team looked to have earned it -- until they saw the scoreboard and it read DQ. In fact, the bronze-medal winning team from Trinidad and Tobago had already left the field and were heading to their change areas when they learned of their third-place finish.

"I laid on the ground for awhile in disappointment," said Richard Thompson, a silver-medal winner from Beijing and a relay runner from the tiny Caribbean nation. "I looked up at the screen and I saw we had come third. I didn't know what happened.

"It's unfortunate for Canada. It's tough. That's our sport. There are going to be disappointments. Today was their day."

And then it wasn't.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @simmonsteve