Justyn Warner reacts after Canada was disqualified in the 4x100m relay. (Reuters)On the morning after another hearbreak for Canadian athletes at the Summer Olympics, Bruny Surin has some simple advice for Jared Connaughton and his 4x100-metre relay mates.
"I'm sad that it happened on those guys and that it happened at the Olympics," Surin, an expert for Yahoo! Sports during the London Games, said. "But I would say to them 'let's forget about it as soon as you can'.''
[Slideshow: Heartbreak for Canada in the 4x100 relay]
Surin, a member of the gold-medal relay team in Atlanta 16 years ago, was sitting trackside with former teammate Donovan Bailey on Saturday night. He saw what everyone among the 80,000 roaring, flag-waving spectators jammed into Olympic Stadium they did — Justyn Warner blazing down the final 100 metres to overtake the Trinidad and Tobago, and French anchors, and finish behind the world-record setting Jamaicans and silver medallist Americans.
One minute, Warner, Connaughton, Seyi Smith and Gavin Smellie were wrapped in Canadian flags. They hugged each other and hugged family, friends and fellow Canadians. They celebrated, believing they had delivered the best Canadian relay performance since Surin, Bailey, Glenroy Gilbert and Robert Esmie stunned the Americans on their home track on a Saturday night in Georgia back in 1996.
The next minute, Warner was in tears, being consoled by his fiancée and Canadian hurdler, Nikkita Holder.
[Related: Broken hearts instead of Bronze for Canada]
Connaughton sat on the track, hands on the top of his head. Smellie and Smith walked around as if they were in a daze.
Connaughton was found guilty of a lane violation during his third leg. An appeal was rejected. That came as no surprise to Gilbert — now coach of the relay team — and Surin. "A little mistake'', said Surin. He remembered a similar fate happening to Wallace Spearmon at the 2008 Beijing Games. The American sprinter also lost a bronze medal because of a lane violation in the finals of the 200 metres.
Surin watched the Canadian team race well at meets in Ostrava, Czech Republic and Rome earlier this season, and predicted a top-five finish in London. After watching them race to a season-best time in Friday's heats, he upgraded that to a legitimate medal contender behind the Jamaicans and Americans.
"I was ready to pay for everyone's drinks at the bar,'' Surin said.
Instead, Surin late Saturday night sent a text to Warner telling him everything would be OK. He was still waiting for a reply. "I think all the guys turned off their phones,'' he said.
Surin called Connaughton "courageous" for saying the disqualification was his fault. He said Connaughton knew that the appeal wouldn't be successful. He wasn't surprised that the veteran sprinter's teammates rallied around him. "You don't blame anybody when that happens. You win and lose as a team.''
Surin doesn't know if the 27-year-old Connaughton will stay for four more years and a shot at redemption in Rio de Janeiro. He hopes the relay team will let this one go and look ahead to their next opportunity at a podium spot in a major event.
"This is the best team by far (since 1996). There's a world championship coming up next year and that's a good thing for these guys to go to Moscow and get on the podium .''
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