'Clipped Wings': Tianna Bartoletta Sounds Off On 4x100m Relay Exclusion
Last week's world-title-winning lineup for Team USA included perennial relay staples Allyson Felix, Morolake Akinosun, and Tori Bowie, but notably did not include Bartoletta in the starting spot. Instead, the U.S. selected Texas A&M sprinter Aaliyah Brown as the lead-off leg. Brown was not entered in any other events, while Bartoletta ended up taking bronze in a hard-fought long jump final.
Bartoletta's blog starts with a declaration of self-confidence:
"'Who is Team USA's best leadoff leg in recent history?'
Answer: I am.
I'm not trying to be cocky or arrogant it's not actually my style. But like Liam Neeson a la 'Taken' I do possess a particular set of skills…
Those skills include my ability to use geometry, physics, adrenaline, and pure savagery to destroy the stagger within 50 meters, sometimes sooner."
She continues by recounting her experiences racing with previous world U.S. 4x100m relay teams. In 2012 and 2016, Bartoletta ran the lead-off leg on both Olympic gold medal-winning squads. She elaborates on the relay selection process, helmed by the recently instated head relay coach Orin Richburg, shortly after:
"I had no way of knowing that that would probably be the last time I represented Team USA at a global championship.
I had no way of knowing that those accomplishments would mean nothing to the new relay coach.
No way to foresee that [Orin] Richburg would tell me on the phone the night before my flight to not even show up to Birmingham relay camp-- essentially robbing me of a chance to even race off for the position.
No way to know after missing a week of long jump training to go to relay camp in Monaco that that would mean absolutely nothing in the big picture.
No way to know that Richburg would tell me in the lobby once we arrived in London that I still may run.
And they had no way to know that given everything that I was going through in my personal life that the last thing I needed was to be jerked around by older men making me feel disposable, and worthless, or that my previous accomplishments, and successful execution in that role didn't matter in the slightest."
At 31 years old, and with the next IAAF world championship two years away, Bartoletta could be right that this "would probably be the last time [she] represented Team USA at a global championship" on the 4x100m relay.
You can read Bartoletta's full blog here.