LONDON – Former Hilltopper sprinter Gavin Smellie and his Canadian 4x100 relay finished their Olympic run in gut-wrenching fashion Saturday, getting disqualified after an apparent bronze-medal finish.
Canada crossed the line third behind world-record gold medalist Jamaica and the silver medalist USA relay, but a lane violation was called post-race, resulting in Canada’s disqualification.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s a part of relays,” said WKU track and field coach Erik Jenkins, who was in London to watch Smellie. “You don’t point the finger at anyone. You live together and you die together.”
The Canadian relay entered Saturday’s final seeded third at 38.05 seconds and appeared to hold seed with a 38.07 showing during finals. Smellie led the relay off, followed by Oluseyi Smith, Jared Connoughton and Justyn Warner.
The result was disappointing for Smellie but he was appreciative of the support showed by his former coach.
“My coach Erik Jenkins has been great at school and to see him come here and support me, there’s nothing I could add to that,” said Smellie. “I’m really thankful Western gave me an opportunity to shine.”
With the completion of the 4X100 relay all three WKU athletes represented in the 2012 London Games are finished with competition. Former swimmer Claire Donahue helped USA earn a swimming gold in the 4X100 medley relay, Raigo Toompuu finished 30th in the shot put representing Estonia, and Smellie helped Canada to a three seed in the 4x100 relay finals.
The heartbreaking end to Smellie’s run at an Olympic medal undoubtedly stings, but Jenkins pride in his former 10-time Sun Belt Conference champion swells.
“I’m extremely proud of Gavin,” said Jenkins. “He’s competed at a high level for a long time now and he’s had tremendous success, as he showed this weekend. I look forward to him competing at an elite level for years to come.”