Team GB sprinters pick up baton from previous disasters as relay goes off track at London 2012


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The Independent Online

No one actually dropped the baton this time, which is progress of sorts, but Great Britain's men's 4 x 100m relay squad still managed to get disqualified in their heat, the fifth time they have done so in the past six major competitions.

The crowd in the stadium erupted with delight when Christian Malcolm, Dwain Chambers, Dan Talbot and Adam Gemili crossed the line second, beaten only by the Jamaicans.

But it was in stark contrast to the experience of the television audience, who were simply told: "Oh no!" by commentator Colin Jackson, as Gemili collected the baton from Dan Talbot, but far after the yellow mark on the track by which point the changeover must be completed.

"I went off and I dunno, maybe I went a bit early," said Gemili, watching the incident after the race.

"It's disappointing because we ran 37.9 and we could have been in contention in the final had we made it. In a stadium like this it is hard to hear [the call] of Hand! Hand! I waited for the baton, I waited, waited and it didn't come."

BBC pundit and American athletics superstar Michael Johnson was less generous on watching the replay.

"Look, he puts his hand out far to the left instead of straight back. That doesn't make it easy," he said.

Dwain Chambers, back in the team after his lifetime ban for taking performance enhancing drugs was overturned, tried to be philosophical about the mistake. He said: "We're still proud to have run for our country. Hopefully we can do better next year."

Gemili is only 19 and won the 100m at the World Junior Championships shortly before the Olympics. He is considered a bright prospect for the future. It was hoped that competing in London would give him valuable confidence and experience before the Olympics in Rio.

Eight years ago in Athens, Britain's men won gold in the event when Mark Lewis-Francis famously held off Maurice Greene, one of the great sprinters of all time, on the final leg.

Justin Gatlin, who won gold in the individual event that year and bronze in London, was also in the team.

The Americans and the Jamaicans are the big contenders for the gold this time. Jamaica ran close to their world record last night and still have Usain Bolt to come back into the team for the final tonight, having rested him.