8th place Olympic final 2008
Dropped the stick in the 4x100m Olympic games 2008
8th place 100m World Champs 2009
DQ’d 4x100m World Champs 2009
5th place in a semifinal at World Champs 2011
DNF in the 4x100m World Champs 2011
Separated collarbone. Out for the rest of the season
I thought I was upset after the 200m semis. I thought that I disappointed my country then. I was wrong. I guess in my case, disaster strikes thrice. And now I’m out with a season ending injury – for the second year in a row.
Man. THAT burns.
If you grab any athlete after a disappointing performance they’ll tell you, “I’ll live to compete again – at least I’m healthy.”
Sure, I’ll live to compete again, but I’m not healthy. And I won’t be for 6-8 weeks. After the semis – I was determined to come back and smash the season – and the relay was the first thing on my list. We worked hard. We were focused. We were prepared. It was time for us to put the 4x100m relay team back on the map – and we were all committed to it.
I’ve watched the relay replay a million times, and now I know that there is absolutely nothing I could have done to avoid falling…but when I hit the ground my life hit the ground right with it. I was crushed. I was asked to lead our team, and I let them down. Not because of anything I did, but because of what happened. And I questioned God. I wanted to know “why me?” “why me again?” “why now?” “what does this mean?” “what am I supposed to learn from all of this?”
And I don’t mean to get churchy on yall, but you know, when life sucks it’s all I’ve got. When life is off the chain, it’s all I’ve got. It is what it is – and I refuse to just leave that part out. It is what gets me through.
And, I’m not looking for sympathy either. There is definitely more to this story than me. I guess you can call me the “co-star” in a horror movie, but my fall impacted two other teams. Because I fell, the Trinidad and Tobago team was unable to finish their race like they should have. The same thing happened to Great Britain. And my team mates, Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Walter Dix, Maurice Mitchell, and Travis Padgett were denied the opportunity to medal. They worked just as hard as I did to get to Daegu. My heart goes out to them – all of them. They are all great athletes, and they didn’t ask for any of this. For that matter, neither did I. Either way, I hate that this happened because this was the relay that the world had been waiting to see.
Anyway, I have to thank my teammates. The men and women of the Team USA 4x100m relays.They were all there after my fall. They helped me get up off that track. They encouraged me to be strong. They said, “Don’t let them see your pain. Get up. We’re with you.” I love them for that. I love them for being there for me even though they were hurting too. If anything, this was a true test of teamwork and we passed with flying colors.
And for all of you – my fans and supporters – I can’t begin to express how much your emails and Facebook posts and DMs and phone calls have meant to me. You have given me another reason to keep trucking. I’ve never seen such a selfless outpouring of love and support in my life. I’m grateful for it all. I’m grateful for you guys.
And…before I wrap up this blog…I want you “other” folks to know – I’ve been on Twitter and I’ve seen the tweets. I’m the “relay jinx.” I’m a “@^#% up for the United States.” I “should never touch a relay baton again” in my life…I’m a “^@&%$ failure”…I’m a “nice guy,” but I “can’t run a relay.” The list goes on…
I guess that’s supposed to insult me or hurt my feelings. It’s cool – and it’s also juvenile. I don’t say that to be disparaging. Folks are entitled to their opinions, and that’s mine. Truth be told, I’ve been called worse where I come from. It’s no skin off my back. Anyone who has eyes, ears, or an internet connection knows that the DNF was due to a freak accident. Sure, some folks are just pissed. I get that. But there’s a difference between being pissed and being real. Here’s what’s real:
This had nothing to do with my skill or professionalism. I did not drop the baton. This had nothing to do with the USA’s ability to get the stick around. But it DID have everything to do with an unfortunate accident that happened to involve me. Those are the facts. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.
What is happening to me is no different than what happened to Romo last year. He had a good year – except for the interceptions. They seemed to overshadow his success and folks ridiculed him. Were all of them his fault? Nope. But, he was the leader of a losing team that failed to make it to the Super Bowl for another year. It was his responsibility to make things happen. No excuses. And then he got hurt – a broken clavicle. How’s that for irony? Now ask yourself…are the Cowboys any less of America’s Team? Of course not.
I know I’m no Romo, but I drew that parallel to say that “the absolute beauty of sport is that it’s unscripted.” You have to learn how to improvise, rehearse, come back for the next show, and do it all over again and again. I’ve had time for my tears and my anger and my frustration. I’m done with that. Are you?
It’s important to remember that you can’t rip athletes and teams because they falter. We’re no less human than you. No less susceptible to the whims of life than anyone else. We just have a different job description and a different stage to work on. You have the luxury of watching and writing about it. We live it. We breathe it. If you really believe that you’re a true fan, you’ll roll with the punches – good, bad and otherwise. All I ask is that you roll with me and Team USA.
And, lastly, I usually don’t do this, but for the super original comedians out there who will try to “answer” the questions I asked earlier – for now you can kick rocks – you clearly have not reached the level of maturity you need to have an intelligent conversation about athletics. There’s a bumper sticker that perfectly describes what happened on Sunday morning. Go read it. Then try to stay upright after hitting a 225 pound lineman (without pads or a helmet) while running 20 mph around a curve. Your time will come, and you’ll likely have the good fortune of experiencing that moment by yourself instead of on an international stage. No matter the when or the where, I hope that your lessons in faith and perseverance aren’t as trying as mine.
I’m done. It’s all love on my end, and it’s on to the next one. I’ll be back. Team USA will be back, and I hope you’ll be there for the party because it is going to be the truth. Just wait for it.