'I let country down' laments Pickering

Craig Pickering is nothing if not honest, so it was hardly surprising that he brushed aside all well-meaning attempts from his team-mates to take joint responsibility for the dropped baton that put an end to Britain's defence of the 4x100m relay title almost as soon as it had begun here on a night of heats which, bizzarely, saw 11 countries come to grief.

The 21-year-old former European junior champion, running the last leg, took off too early as Marlon Devonish approached. Realising his mistake, Pickering slowed up and looked back at the increasingly desperate figure of his team-mate, who almost fell over his heels as they fumbled a changeover that eventually took place outside the designated area. Although Pickering ran on to finish second to Jamaica's former world champion Asafa Powell in the next lane, the look on his face as he crossed the line made it obvious he knew the consequence of his misjudgement - disqualification.

"I feel like I've let the team and the country down," a despondent Pickering said. "Unfortunately for the next four years I am going to be remembered as the guy who messed up."

Pickering's suspicion may not be strictly accurate, as the highest profile erring figure on the night was Tyson Gay. The world 100 and 200m champion had dropped the baton on the last changeover in the previous heat, thus ending the pursuit of a 16th Olympic sprint relay title for the United States men's team. If it was a bad day for Britain, it was even worse for the Americans, whose women also came to grief on the final leg of their relay heat, with Torri Edwards and Lauryn Williams combining to disastrous effect.

Gay had closed his hand as third leg runner Darvis Patton placed the baton on it, only to find he was grasping nothing. The image was emblematic of Gay's miserable Games, following his failure to reach the 100m final.

Both runners involved strove manfully to take the blame. "I dropped it," said Gay. "It's my job to make sure he had it secure," said Patton. Let's hope they don't come to blows over who is sorriest.

And all this on a night when the American poster girl, Allyson Felix, was beaten into silver medal position in the 200 metres final by Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, just as she had been four years ago in Athens.

Devonish, the only remaining member of the British team which earned unexpected gold in 2004, gave vent to his feelings of frustration at a mishap which mirrored the team's baton fumbling at the 2000 Sydney Games.

"We're bitterly disappointed, totally gutted," he said. "There's been a lot of expectation on this team. We didn't come here to play games but it's a team event and we all take full responsibility. There are no excuses.

"I'm not sure if I didn't go quick enough or if Craig went early, everything happens so quickly in the relay."

But there is a spark of hope for Britain in the progress of their women's quartet, whose chances of earning something here have been significantly improved by the absence of the United States, France and Italy.

The British quartet of individual 100m finalist Jeanette Kwayke, Montell Douglas, Emily Freeman and Emma Ania finished in second place behind Belgium to raise hopes that they might be the ones to deliver the fifth British medal in athletics which would match the target set by UK Sport.

"We played it safe and there is a lot more to come from the team," Kwayke said. "I'm pretty sure we can win a medal. It is the best team since the 1980s and we are ready."

Perhaps all the errant relay runners would do well to take notice of the Japanese men's team which secured the third fastest qualifying time behind Trinidad and Tobago and a Jamaican team that has still to add a modicum of extra speed to its line-up in the form of the Olympic 100 and 200 metres champion Usain Bolt. Asked about handover technique, team member Naoki Tsukahara responded: "We have no special strategies, just some eye exchanges and telepathy."

Sounds worth thinking about.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower