English Gardner ran the third leg in the US women’s gold medal-winning 4x100m race on Friday night in Rio. This morning we learned that Gardner had to wear one of Allyson Felix’s shoes (Or both. It’s unclear whether she wore the one shoe she had) during the race because one of her track spikes was missing. Luckily, she was able to fit into an extra pair that Felix had with her. But what happened to the missing shoe? Here’s the story that NBC’s affiliate websites are sharing. Via NBC New York:
English Gardner, who ran the third leg of the race, told “Today’s” Sheinelle Jones that when she looked in her bag just before the final race, she saw only one spike. With just 10 minutes before the race start time, Gardner calmly told a coach she was missing a shoe.
“I’m normally not a person to forget my shoes. That’s kind of like, you know, a soldier showing up to a war without his guns,” Gardner said.
“Once again, Allyson, like the vet she is, pulled out an extra pair of shoes,” she said. “Definitely was a half size too big but there’s nothing that double socks couldn’t fix.”
What a wacky story, right? Even professional athletes forget things on the biggest possible stage. Stars! They’re just like you and me! Right? Maybe, maybe not. What the NBC stories don’t mention is this detail that Gardner shared with a writer for USA Track & Field:
Gardner says that after Thursday night’s time trial for the relay, which advanced them into the final, she returned to the apartment she shared with her parents in Rio and never touched her spike bag. Friday night at the stadium’s warm-up track, she left her bag in a tent as she warmed up. Just more than 10 minutes before the team was to report to the call room, she prepared to practice hand-offs with Allyson Felix. She went to her bag to get her shoes: “I opened my bag, and it looked like stuff had been moved around. And there was only one spike in it.”
That’s not a relatable story – that’s sabotage! Somebody might have gone through a possible Olympic medalist’s bag moments before her race and stole one of her shoes. This could have been an international incident if Felix didn’t happen to have an extra pair of running spikes within a half-size of Gardner.