The key to any successful relay is getting the baton around safely. And starting from the correct position.
Sadly, no one advised the United States about that second tactic as they were disqualified in comical circumstances from the mixed 4x400m relay at Tokyo 2020.
With the first leg coming to an end, one thing was missing as the runners steamed into the changeover: the American athlete on the second leg.
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Awkwardly, Lynna Irby was standing in the wrong position – some 10 metres round the bend – and out of sync with the rest of the runners about to collect the baton.
It meant that when teammate Elija Godwin handed across the baton, they were outside the changeover zone – an offence that almost always results in disqualification.
The USA cruised home to win the heat but were quickly booted out of Saturday’s final by officials.
However, it later emerged that the Americans were appealing the decision after saying the officials instructed Irby to stand at the wrong mark. The mistake was almost repeated by Brazil and Ukraine in the second heat only for the athletes on the second leg to scamper back, prompting track legend Michael Johnson to suggest the fault lay with the officials.
Should the disqualification stand, American legend Allyson Felix would be denied the chance to add to her Olympic medal haul. The nine-time medallist was tipped to be drafted into the line-up for the final.

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What are the 4x400m mixed relay rules?

Teams will be made up of two men and two women who will each do a lap of the track, passing a baton to their team-mate at the end of their lap.
It is down to the individual team to decide which order they choose to run in.
They could choose both men first and then the two women, or vice versa, or, decide to alternate between male and female runners.
Alongside the new 4x400m mixed relay there will also be the traditional 4x400m men's and 4x400m women's races.

When is the 4x400m mixed relay final at the Tokyo Olympics?

The final takes place just on Saturday at 13:35 BST, featuring Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Jamaica and Germany.
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