It was a very difficult task before this substitution to reach the final. The Netherlands were not among the top countries after three-quarters of the race and that’s partly why Martina wanted to take the extra risk of starting early. This means that Garia could not catch up with him to hand over the wand before Martina left the transition area.
Joris van Goul was the starting runner, Timir Burnett the second man and Garia the third runner. He tried to pass the wand to Martina, but he couldn’t.
For 37-year-old Martina, this disqualification meant the end of his Olympic career. This was his fifth participation in the Olympic Games and he was one of two Dutch flag bearers during this year’s Opening Ceremony.
“We needed sharp substitutions to reach the final”
“We don’t know what’s wrong,” it sounded from the four mouths afterwards. “We’ll have to watch the videos again,” Martina agreed. The boys ran well, but the transition between me and Chris didn’t go well. I felt like I left on time, but maybe it wasn’t. We needed sharp substitutions to get to the final, because opponents in principle run faster. It usually goes well, but sometimes it doesn’t.”
For Martina, this was perhaps his last appearance at the Olympics. “I’m here, so I won’t complain, but I’m disappointed that it ends like this. The other players did their best and I’m happy for them because they did well, but in the relay there is always the possibility that things could go wrong.” However, the runner left the door a little ajar for the Olympic Games in Paris. He wants to reach the World Cup next year in Eugene, America. “I want to go on for another year if I can find a good sponsor.”
Churandy Martina with Joris van Gool by his side.
Ⓒ ANP / HH
However, it sounded a bit like saying goodbye to Martina at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Even his colleague Van Gaul started applauding the veteran. “This is the most special sporting achievement I have experienced up close,” he explained. “He had his first Olympics in Athens when I was six, and now I’ve been able to experience firsthand how he still makes the right choices. I can only hope that when I’m 37, I can still stand here.”
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The biggest surprise was that Team USA did not qualify for the final either. The traditionally strong runner country missed the final battle, in part because the Ghanaians were a little faster.
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