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August 6, 2021

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Gardiner wins 400 as US men suffer on track

Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas won the Olympic 400 meters title yesterday but it was the failure of the formerly all-conquering American men that was talk of the Tokyo track after another dire day for one half of the sport’s superpower.

United States men won the 400 seven times in a row, culminating in two podium sweeps, up to 2008 but have now gone three Games without success and with only one medal.

A disastrous sixth place in their 4x100 relay heat, ripped apart by fans and former greats on social media, continued their winless run in another event they formerly owned, the American men’s team is in danger of failing to win a track gold for the first time.

At least the field events, and the women, are delivering as Ryan Crouser won the shot put and Katie Nageotte the pole vault. There were also golds for Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment in the 110 hurdles, Canada’s Damian Warner in the decathlon and Belgian Nafi Thiam in the heptathlon.

Gardiner delivered a perfectly-judged exhibition in the 400, keeping calm as American Michael Norman went out like a train in the lane outside him.

As Norman tired, Gardiner added Olympic glory to his world title and earned his country’s first Tokyo gold. Anthony Zambrano of Colombia took silver and Kirani James of Grenada completed his Olympic set having won gold in 2012 and silver in Rio.

It should be a shock when the US messes up the men’s sprint relay but it is becoming so common from the nation that utterly dominated the event for 70 years that it is now almost expected.

Despite having a team dripping with speed, ragged changeovers left them sixth in their heat and out of the final. The performance led to an outpouring of fury from US athletics fans with former multi-Olympic champions Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson calling the performance and the team’s lack of preparation “an embarrassment.”

There was more American woe in the 110 hurdles as Parchment ran down hot favorite and world champion Grant Holloway.


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