Botched handoff dooms Canada in men's 4x100-metre final at Commonwealth Games
Saturday, Aug 02, 2014 05:45 pm
GLASGOW, Scotland - It was another nightmare final for Canada's men's 4x100-metre relay team.
Two years after a lane violation cost the Canadians a medal at the London Olympics, a botched handoff Saturday wasted another podium opportunity at the Commonwealth Games.
Dontae Richards-Kwok and Andre De Grasse got their signals crossed in transitioning the baton to the anchor leg and ran out of room to spoil a solid opening 200 metres by teammates Gavin Smellie and Aaron Brown.
"I felt our first legs were really strong. We said the whole year it's important to get our zones right," said Richards-Kwok, disappointment etched in his voice. "I think we just had a miscue on our anchor leg. I don't know if (De Grasse) left a little bit too early or if I was coming in a little bit too slow or whatever it was.
"We had a lot of confusion and couldn't get it off."
Canada looked to be in the mix for a medal before the disqualification, but it appeared on television replays that De Grasse — who declined to speak with reporters — left early.
The Markham, Ont., sprinter was lined up next to Jamaica's Usain Bolt for the final leg, and could only watch as the world's fastest man powered his country to gold in a time of 37.58 seconds to set a new Games record.
England took silver in 38.02 seconds, while Trinidad and Tobago was third in 38.10 seconds.
Canada men's 4x100-metre relay team had the third fastest time in the final of the 2012 Olympics, but were disqualified when Jared Connaughton accidentally stepped on a line during the third leg of the race.
There have been major changes since the London Games, with the 28-year-old Smellie the only holdover on a team that includes the 19-year-old De Grasse and the 22-year-old Brown.
But unfortunately for Canada, the results were all to familiar on Saturday.
"We have to get our zones perfect and that's the only way we're going to come out on top," said Richards-Kwok, a 25-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. "As you can see, any little error can be the difference between being in the mix and maybe getting a medal, and a DQ."
Canada's only medal on the final day of competition in track and field came from Alysha Newman, who won bronze in women's pole vault. The country's track team finished with 17 medals (five gold, two silver, 10 bronze) to equal the number won in New Delhi four years ago against weaker competition.
"I think just seeing how well the Canadian team did this year, I wanted to be a part of that," said the 20-year-old from Delaware, Ont. "It's an honour that I could be a part and (get a medal).
"I'm going to build from that."
Newman cleared 3.80 metres to tie for third with England's Sally Scott. Australia's Alana Boyd surpassed 4.50 metres to win gold, followed by Sally Peake of Wales at 4.25 metres.
The weather had co-operated for most of the Games with very un-Scottish sunshine and temperatures, but the skies opened up on Saturday at historic Hampden Park, with rain pelting competitors.
Crews did their best to clear water off the all-weather track with squeegees for the runners, but the surface remained damp as the moisture persisted throughout the night.
Newman said she was disappointed that her event was forced to go ahead in the sloppy conditions.
"A girl broke her pole, four or five girls fell into the box, on my last attempt I slipped," she said. "It makes it really difficult. I've never competed in conditions like that. They've always postponed it, but because it was the last day of the Games they had to go through with it. It's a bittersweet feeling."
Meanwhile, Canada's women's 4x100-metre relay team of Toronto's Crystal Emmanuel, Kimberly Hyacinthe of Terrebonne, Que., Phylicia George of Markham, Ont., and Khamica Bingham of Brampton, Ont., finished fourth behind Jamaica, Nigeria and England.
"Fourth is cool but we dream big, we aim high and we really feel like we could have won a medal here. It's a little bit disappointing, but we're going to keep working," said the 26-year-old George. "In Canada they always talk about the men's 4x100 program, but we want the women's 4x100 to be right there with them."
In other results involving Canadians at the track, Montreal's Audrey Jean-Baptiste, Fawn Dorr of Marten River, Ont., Noelle Montcalm of Windsor, Ont., and Chanice Taylor-Chase of Ajax, Ont., finished fifth in the women's 4x400-metre relay final, while Calgary's Jessica O'Connell was 10th in the women's 5,000 metres.
Richards-Kwok — who along with the Toronto duo of Smellie and Brown was part of the Canadian relay team that finished third behind Jamaica and the United States at last year's world championships — is buoyed by the Canadian squad's progress, Saturday's disappointment aside.
"We have a lot to look forward to," said Richards-Kwok. "From the results, it may not look like it, but I think this is a group of the fastest four guys we've had in a while.
"It's a really young team. We have a lot to learn. We have a lot more to give. We just didn't have the execution today."