It's time to get a little nervous if you're an American track fan.
The United States completely owns the 4x400-meter relay at the Olympics, winning 16 titles in 22 runnings of the event. They haven't lost to anyone outright since 1952.
At 4:10 p.m. on Friday afternoon, however, they could. Injuries have left top 400 runners Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt out of the competition. In Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, the U.S. swept the individual gold medals in the event, but they didn't find the podium in London.
"For the first time, I think the U.S. will not start as the favorite," said Ato Boldon, a four-time medal-winner from Trinidad and Tobago who is now an analyst (via The Plain Dealer). "There's a possibility that the U.S. doesn't medal in the four by four."
While the United States tied with the Bahamas for the fastest qualifying time, it lost Manteo Mitchell in the process. In Thursday's qualifying, he broke his femur but was somehow able to keep running and keep the team in the competition. Now the U.S. will have to dig deeper on the roster.
The contenders will be the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, Cuba and South Africa. Trinidad and Tobago and Great Britain finished less than two seconds behind the U.S. qualifying time, while Cuba was less than three seconds off.
South Africa, meanwhile, was disqualified from the event after a collision in the qualifying heat. They were reinstated after a controversial appeal, and "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius is slated to run the anchor leg for them. The South Africans took silver behind the Americans at last year's World Championships, although Pistorius only ran in the qualifying and not the final.
This could be the end of over a half-century of dominance by the Americans, and if they fail to medal it will be a huge upset. The presence of Pistorius in an anchor leg makes it even more of a must-see event.
As far as a prediction, the four men running for the United States are under immense pressure and will do anything to avoid being the ones that end the streak. There is a lot of hype because of the potential for losing, but they still had the fastest qualifying time despite a broken leg. They will win a close race, while the South Africans will take bronze and cause an even bigger stir as many don't think they should be in the race at all.
Buckle up...There is going to be a lot of drama.
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