Carl Lewis
Getty Images

Carl Lewis criticizes U.S. relay coaching

Leave a comment

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis harshly criticized U.S. track and field relays on Tuesday.

U.S. 4x100m and 4x400m relays have struggled with coaching controversies and changes and declining results at recent major championships.

“USATF needs to stop the joking, stop the crap,” Lewis said at a U.S. Olympic Committee media summit. “What they need to do is get a retired college coach who is going to tell an agent that gets off, who is going to tell the athlete to get in line and know how to put together a 4×100 and know how to put together a relay. I don’t care if he’s 75. Get a retired college coach. And that’s it. Stop these little games with the people that are spinning. It’s crap. It’s embarrassing what’s happened with the relay program. It’s embarrassing we can’t even get a baton around.”

Lewis, now a coach where he used to sprint at the University of Houston, said he’s also coached athletes ages 6 to 18 and never seen a baton hit the ground at a meet.

“America can’t cross the line, so something’s going on here,” Lewis said. “Nine-year-olds never drop the stick.”

A U.S. relay hasn’t dropped a baton at an Olympics or Worlds since 2009, but other problems have led to defeats, in particular poor handoffs. Jamaica’s rise in the last decade hasn’t helped, either.

Last week, USA Track and Field said Lewis’ 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic teammate Dennis Mitchell resigned as a national team relays coach due to a new rule that prohibits the coach of an athlete likely to be part of the relay pool from coaching a relay.

Mitchell coaches the U.S.’ top male sprinter, Justin Gatlin.

“USATF’s High Performance Executive Committee revised the criteria for our relay coach selection in recent months,” USATF spokesperson Jill Geer said in an email. “Since that time, they have been active in leading the new process and direction for the relays, including coaching roles and responsibilities.”

USATF has not announced a replacement for Mitchell. Lewis said he’s never been interested.

“I don’t have the time to do it,” Lewis said, adding that USATF has never asked if he’s interested in coaching relays.

Lewis did not specifically mention Mitchell on Tuesday.

“The focus is not on being the best team,” Lewis said. “It’s all the drama. The agents in the middle. It’s a mess. Somebody needs to tell them all to go sit in the stands.”

Lewis said college coaches are a good option because “they’re not mixed in the middle of the mess.”

Mitchell coached the U.S. sprint relays at the IAAF World Relays in 2014 and 2015 and was the relays head coach at the August 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

In August, the U.S. earned one of a possible four gold medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the World Championships for a second straight time.

Mitchell’s original appointment as relays coach in 2014 was a controversial one, as during his sprint career he served a two-year ban for testing positive for testosterone in 1998.

In 2012, a U.S. Olympic relays coach was another of Lewis’ Olympic teammates — Jon Drummond. In 2014, Drummond was banned eight years after arbitrators found he assisted two-time Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay‘s use of banned substances.

MORE: Caitlyn Jenner’s message to Ashton Eaton after decathlon world record

Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
AP
Leave a comment

Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!