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The Best Botched Relays

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  • The Best Botched Relays

    Many relay teams could have run this or that, but never did due to missed hand-offs or dropped batons.

    What should teams who found themselves DNF/DQ have run had they gotten the stick around the track? Are there any which would have been in the top-10 all-time?

  • #2
    Dropped Batons

    The one that comes to my mind is 1952 Helsinki Olympic 4x100 final when Winsome Cripps and the great Marjorie Jackson 'bounced' the baton at the final changeover and finished way back. This Australian quartet that included Shirley Strickland - another world record holder at both sprints and hurdles must be one of the best ever.

    Doug

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    • #3
      Thank you! Your first post ever, and you picked a great one to respond to!

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      • #4
        And what a great response! I mean, over the years, there have been quite a few--too many, most of us would say-- USA 4x100 teams that coulda', woulda', shoulda', but never got the stick around the track. And the thing that comes to Doug's mind was an Australian women's relay that ran 55 years ago. What a great mind!

        Welcome, Doug. Stick around. I think you'll find this is a good place to talk track seriously (and sometimes not so seriously). Most of us really value the historical knowledge and perspective that you obvously have. And most of us have fun here. I hope you will too.

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        • #5
          The US men's 4x1 team at Rome in the '60 OG ran 39.4 to break the WR, but were DQed on the first exchange from Frank Budd to Ray Norton. Norton slowed to try to get the baton on the zone, but was unsuccessful, and then another bad exchange between Norton and Stone Johnson further slowed the team. Dave Sime was the anchor, starting a meter behind hurdles champ Martin Lauer and then beating him by a meter. Norton had made up ground on 100 champ Armin Hary.

          So, adding up the IFs:
          no DQ = 39.4;
          plus good first exchange = 39.2 (conservatively);
          plus good second exchange = 38.9 (also conservative);
          Gold + WR 38.9 (not broken at low-altitude until 1972) = priceless!

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          • #6
            dj, thanks but then again no thanks for talking about the 1960 400 OG relay. If ever an athlete deserved a good ending to a track career, it was Sime, and it was denied to him.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by EPelle
              Thank you! Your first post ever, and you picked a great one to respond to!
              Agreed – that is quite the auspicious virgin post. Something tells me that if I tracked down my first post it would be total BS gibberish (like the vast majority of them).

              Welcome aboard, Doug!

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              • #8
                Re: The Best Botched Relays

                Originally posted by EPelle
                Many relay teams could have run this or that, but never did due to missed hand-offs or dropped batons.

                What should teams who found themselves DNF/DQ have run had they gotten the stick around the track? Are there any which would have been in the top-10 all-time?
                my favourite was at the worls a few years back (was it 01) when christopher williams was so busy watching james beckford on the big screen he forgot he was taking part in a relay the incoming runner ran straight into his back !!!

                he'll never live that one down
                i deserve extra credit

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                • #9
                  Re: The Best Botched Relays

                  Originally posted by EPelle
                  Many relay teams could have run this or that, but never did due to missed hand-offs or dropped batons.

                  What should teams who found themselves DNF/DQ have run had they gotten the stick around the track? Are there any which would have been in the top-10 all-time?

                  I always thought a relay had a little more interest when there was a mishap without a DNF/DQ and the team still ran. I've seen a few relays where the baton bounced and was caught by the runner or dropped in the infield. I believe this happened at a major meet in the 4x400.

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                  • #10
                    Re: The Best Botched Relays

                    Originally posted by mump boy
                    my favourite was at the worls a few years back (was it 01) when christopher williams was so busy watching james beckford on the big screen he forgot he was taking part in a relay the incoming runner ran straight into his back !!!
                    How about when one runner (third leg) was chatting to his friend on the infield and forgot to get on to the track. In coming runner arrives to find no team mate. May he should have just run the whole 200m, possibly no one would have noticed? I forget the championship and team but it was recent.

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                    • #11
                      As to one of the best results by a team with a botched handoff, the USA 4x400 team which won the gold medal (and the overall meet) at the 1985 World Cup comes to mind.

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                      • #12
                        In any sort of major meet, had a team ever dropped the baton in the 1600/mile relay and still won ?

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Best Botched Relays

                          Originally posted by indigo
                          I always thought a relay had a little more interest when there was a mishap without a DNF/DQ and the team still ran.
                          How about leadoff leg Evelyn Ashford handing off to a young inexperienced #2 runner (can't recall who without looking) in Barcelona(?). The outgoing runner had her hand and arm waving all over the place. EA calmly grabbed her arm, steadied it, and put the baton in her hand.

                          Indigo, Is that the type of situation that grabs your interest?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Halfmiler2
                            As to one of the best results by a team with a botched handoff, the USA 4x400 team which won the gold medal (and the overall meet) at the 1985 World Cup comes to mind.
                            Maybe half of the teams in that race botched the last handoff, as I recall. It was a mess.

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                            • #15
                              How about the German Women's 4x100 team dropping the baton at the final exchange at the 1936 OG. The Germans were 10 meters clear when Ilse Dorrfelt [the 4th best German, the other 3 had made the OG 100 final] dropped the baton. Helen Stephens anchored the USA - she had been 8m better than the third best German in the 100 final - and she would probably have won the race anyway, but a great finish was ruined by the drop.
                              Sometimes it's not even a dropped baton which ruins a race. Arthur Wint was chasing Roy Cochran on the 3rd leg of the 4x400 in 1948 when he collapsed with a badly pulled muscle - the Jamaicans had to wait 4 years for their OG win [and many runners have gone quicker than McKenley's 44.6 in '52 - but relative to the opposition, none have had a better run than he had that day]
                              The USSR had overtaken the GDR in the '88 relay [Pomoshchnikova passing Göhr] when the Russian cramped, leaving the US to win. Again no drop - but a race damaged by an injury.
                              As I'm rabbiting on a bit, I may as well add my favorite relays - which are the '91 WC 4X100 where Ottey ran a 9.71 anchor to wipe out Privalova and Drechsler, and '93 when [with eyes shut for the last 20m] Privalova just edged Ashford as both teams ran 41.49 [Ashford ran 9.83 to Privalova's 9.86 but just missed gold - unusually, for her]

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