Fri, September 20, 2013

'Brutal' DQ still eating Canadian relay team

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency


Members of Canada's men's 4x100m relay team react after being disqualified at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 11, 2012. (REUTERS)


LONDON - Glenroy Gilbert hasn't watched a replay of the race, doesn't know if he will, doesn't know if he can.

The coach of the Canada's Olympic relay team hasn't spoken to his athletes in any detail since the disqualification Saturday in the 4X100 metre race and doesn't know when he will.

"It's too soon," he said Sunday. "It's too raw. For me personally, this stings. I can't look at the tape. I don't know if I'll ever look at it. I guess one day I'll have to sit down and watch it. But I don't know when that day will be.

"I thought I'd feel better today. I don't. Maybe a little less bitter. But it's just brutal, just brutal for those kids. You have no idea how far they've come.

"In the coaches area for the few minutes when we thought we had the bronze medal, all the coaches from all the other countries were congratulating us. They know how far we've come. They know how hard it's been."

The relay team went in their own direction on the final day of the Summer Olympics.

Jared Connaughton, the sprinter from Charlottetown who stepped on the line in his lane, causing the Canadian disqualification, went to the gold-medal basketball game. Justyn Warner, who ran the anchor leg of the relay, went out with his fiancee, Nikkita Holder and his family for the day. Each of them attempting to get away from the pain of the disqualification: From one minute to the next, they went from one of Canada's best performances at the Games to absolute heartbreak.

The race was the fastest in history, with Jamaica and Usain Bolt setting a world record and the Americans, with Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, tying the world record previously owned by the Jamaicans. The Canadians ran third, with Warner running a brilliant final 100 metres.

"We did everything right," Gilbert said. "A lot of times in relay running someone steps on the lines. I think more than one team in this race stepped on the line. But it's a judgment call. We got caught. This stuff happens in relay racing."

Gilbert was part of a relay team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona that was disqualified for an improper baton pass and bounced back four years later to win gold with Donovan Bailey and teammates in Atlanta. He isn't saying this team will bounce back with such fervour, but he's like his group, which includes Gavin Smellie and Oluseyi Smith and isn't about to blame Connaughton.

"It didn't surprise me that Jared took responsibility for it, because that's the kind of teammate he is," Gilbert said. "But we win together, lose together. The team got disqualified. That's such a shame. I'm so proud of those guys and I feel sick for them. We may get over this. Its going to take an awful lot of time."

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

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