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Kenny Bednarek says runners weren't 'in the loop' on who was racing in failed 4x100 relay

The U.S. men's 4x100 relay team came under heavy criticism from Olympic legend Carl Lewis after failing to qualify for the final in Tokyo.
/ Source: TODAY

U.S. sprinter Kenny Bednarek blamed a lack of communication by the coaches and said runners weren't "in the loop" ahead of the latest disastrous 4x100 relay performance for Team USA that left them out of medal contention on Wednesday in Tokyo.

Bednarek, 22, who won silver in the men's 200-meter race, was not part of the relay team that finished sixth in their heat and failed to qualify for the final, despite the U.S. being the reigning world champions in the event.

After the disappointing showing by the team of Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley, Ronnie Baker and Cravon Gillespie, legendary Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis tweeted that they "did everything wrong," calling it "a total embarrassment" and saying that Team USA looked worse than an AAU team.

"Like he said, we've seen better with an AAU squad," Bednarek told Craig Melvin on TODAY Thursday. "It's just very disappointing to see how we did there. I feel we can do a lot better than that, we just need to make sure to be more organized and just do something different. Get us more involved and tell us what's what in practice. Not a couple days before the event, let's try to get in a training camp. All of that is necessary."

Sprinter Cravon Gillepie reacts after Team USA failed to qualify for the men's 4x100 relay final in Tokyo despite being the reigning world champions.
Sprinter Cravon Gillepie reacts after Team USA failed to qualify for the men's 4x100 relay final in Tokyo despite being the reigning world champions. Petr David Josek / AP

Craig asked if the team wasn't even notified of who would be running the relay until a day or two before the event.

"Yeah. We weren't even in the loop," Bednarek said. "I was asking my coach a couple days before we even got to the 200 like, 'Hey when are we practicing, when are we doing this, when are we doing that,' and everything was just up in the loop. No communication at all."

TODAY has reached out to Team USA track for a response to Bednarek's comments, but didn't receive a response as of this story posting.

The U.S. relay team had won the gold medal at the 2019 World Championships and was a heavy favorite to medal in Tokyo before Wednesday's showing. It marked the latest disaster in the relay for Team USA, which dropped the baton in the first round of the 2008 Olympics, had their medal stripped because of doping at the 2012 Olympics, and had an illegal handoff in the finals at the 2016 Olympics.

The relay team members weren't the only ones who had a frustrating day, as reigning world champion Noah Lyles, 24, finished behind Bednarek in third in the 200-meter race.

"It's boring," Lyles told Craig on TODAY Thursday about winning bronze. "I've been a winner and winning for a very long time and actually losing in that race in these Olympics was only my second loss in my whole pro career. I don't like bronze. I'm not satisfied with bronze. That's boring. I want to go for gold, but at the same time I've got to put things in perspective."