So far, the United States athletes have failed to perform at the level they’re expected to at this year’s Olympics.
With Team USA currently trailing China in total number of gold medals, it’s easy to see how any American could be frustrated.
But none may be more frustrated than one of Team USA’s greatest Olympians of all time, who believes this American team’s performance was a “total embarrassment.”
For most Olympians, participating in the games just once is the accomplishment of a lifetime.
For Carl Lewis, though, just making it to the Olympics was only the beginning.
From 1979 to 1996, Lewis absolutely dominated the 100-meters, 200-meters, 4×100-meter relay, and the long jump, winning 9 gold medals, 1 silver, 10 world championship medals, and became one of just six Olympians to ever win a gold medal in the same event in four consecutive Olympics.
So considering the level of success he’s had, and the standard he helped set for Americans in the Olympics, it’s easy to see why Lewis is frustrated today by the athletic performances he’s seeing from Team USA.
But none have frustrated him as much as the current team running one of his former events, the 4×100-meter relay.
After recently watching the relay team finish sixth in their heat race in Tokyo and not even qualify for the final, Lewis had seen enough and took to social media to make his frustrations public, as he absolutely shredded Team USA’s effort.
The USA team did everything wrong in the men's relay. The passing system is wrong, athletes running the wrong legs, and it was clear that there was no leadership. It was a total embarrassment, and completely unacceptable for a USA team to look worse than the AAU kids I saw .
— Carl Lewis (@Carl_Lewis) August 5, 2021
But Lewis wasn’t done there, and ultimately sat for an interview with USA Today in which he doubled down on his criticisms, comparing the relay team’s performance to an NFL team losing the Super Bowl 99-0.
“This was a football coach taking a team to the Super Bowl and losing 99-0 because they were completely ill-prepared,” Lewis said.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s so disheartening to see this because it’s people’s lives. We’re just playing games with people’s lives. That’s why I’m so upset. It’s totally avoidable,” Lewis continued. “And America is sitting there rooting for the United States and then they have this clown show. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just unacceptable. It is not hard to do the relay.”
It’s hard to blame Lewis for his frustrations, especially when it’s a similar frustration shared by many American sports fans who expect Team USA to be the team to beat at every Olympic Games.
But Lewis’ opinions obviously carry far more weight than those of the average Joe who’s watching the Olympics on his couch while stuffing his face with pizza.
Lewis helped set the standard for American greatness at the Olympics, and achieved a level of success in his events that may never be matched.
For everything he’s done for Team USA, he has every right to be frustrated by the performance of those now filling his shoes on the 4×100 relay team.
In fact, if more current and former athletes had Lewis’ point of view, rather than succumbing to the participation trophy mentality, these sorts of issues would never exist for another American team.
But you probably shouldn’t hold your breath on that one.