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One day after DQ and reinstatement, new U.S. 4x400 mixed relay team stunned

·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·3 min read
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TOKYO — After a few stressful hours the night before waiting to see if its disqualification appeal would go in its favor, the United States mixed 4x400 relay team went onto the track Saturday night for the first-ever Olympic final in the new event.

It didn't exactly go as expected for the favored Americans.

Team USA was upset by Poland and the Dominican Republic, garnering bronze in the event.

Poland's time was 3:09.87, while Dominican anchor Alexander Ogando out-leaned American anchor Vernon Norwood for silver and a time of 3:10.21. USA's time was 3:10.22.

The U.S. team for the final was completely different than the one it used in the heats the night before. But on paper, the quartet was impressive: leadoff Trevor Stewart was fourth in the men's open 400 at U.S. Trials, as Kendall Ellis was fourth in the women's 400; Kaylin Whitney and Vernon Norwood were fifth in their races at trials.

Poland was in third place when anchor Kajetan Duszynski got the baton and the U.S. fourth when Norwood received it, and Duszynski ran his country to victory.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 31: Trevor Stewart of Team United States reacts during the 4 x 400m Mixed Relay Final on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 31: Trevor Stewart of Team United States reacts during the 4 x 400m Mixed Relay Final on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Draped in an American flag like her three teammates, Ellis talked about being part of a unique race.

 

"It's just a lot of fun; it's great to come out here and represent our country in yet another event, an event that's so different from the standard — track and field is separated into men and women, and you get to come together and put the best of the best from each gender and see what we've got," she said.

On Friday night, the team of Elija Godwin, Lynna Irby, Taylor Manson and Bryce Deadmon won the first of two qualifying heats. But shortly after they finished, it was announced that they'd been disqualified for an exchange violation — in pictures, it was clear to see Irby was lined up after the end of the legal exchange zone, not before as she should have been.

But the U.S. appealed, saying it was an official who had told Irby to line up where she did; American Olympic icon Michael Johnson, here broadcasting with the BBC, tweeted that his team noticed officials instruct two runners in Heat 2 to line up incorrectly, though those runners noticed the error in time.

Almost five hours after the DQ, USA Track & Field announced that it had won the appeal, and the U.S. had been allowed back into the final.

"It was a lot of emotions going through last night, we just had to keep our faith and know that we had to trust our team, and at the end of the day we woke up, we got a chance to [compete], and we came away with a medal," Norwood said.

The four runners who ran for the U.S. in Saturday's qualifier will also receive bronze medals.

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