SA’s mixed 4x400meter relay team has been reinstated at the Tokyo Olympics just hours after they had been disqualified for 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 appeared to have stopped them from going for the gold.
USA’s mixed 4x400meter relay team has been reinstated at the Tokyo Olympics just hours after they had been disqualified
But after successfully appealing the ruling, the reigning world champions in the event will be able to take part in the inaugural Olympics mixed 4x400meter relay final on Saturday.
Irby and Godwin were placed on the team specifically to help get through the relay rounds but the ruling said the former positioned herself ‘outside’ the zone to receive the baton from her team-mate.
A bad baton pass between Lynna Irby (circled) and Elija Godwin saw them initially disqualified
The US men have a long history of faulty baton exchanges in the Olympic relays, and the women did too and thanks to the 4x400m relay’s debut in Tokyo, appeared to have flubbed one together.
After the race, Godwin said: ‘Mistakes happen. We are human. We do make mistakes.’ However, it was a mistake that looked to 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 is back on following the appeal and could happen before next week’s women’s 400m. Felix could also race in the women’s 4x400m next weekend.
But Irby (above) and Godwin’s blushes were spared after their appeal to appear in Saturday’s final was successful
‘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.’
It appeared to be the latest chapter in a decades-long series of mishaps for the US in relays. Most have come in the shorter 4x100m relay where the pass is a more technical and time-sensitive move. Friday’s 4x400m was an incident when the exchange should not have been nearly as difficult.
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