Connaughton wins support of a nation

Jason Malloy
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Thousands send messages to P.E.I. sprinter after relay team disqualified at Olympics

Jared Connaughton is expected to arrive at the Charlottetown Airport tonight at 7:39.

Canada's Jared Connaughton waits for the results in the 4x100-metre relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Saturday, August 11, 2012. Canada was disqualified.

New Haven’s Jared Connaughton stood up and took responsibility for his team being disqualified Saturday at the Summer Olympics.

And then the country stood squarely behind him — showing the 27-year-old sprinter the support of a nation.

“Reading the thousands of supportive messages and tweets from you all means the world to me,” Connaughton said Sunday on Twitter. “It’s been awful, but your support has been great!”

Connaughton ran the third leg of the 4x100-metre relay in Saturday’s final. His left foot stepped on the border of his lane as he entered a turn prior to handing off the baton to Justyn Warner for the anchor leg.

The Canadian team, which included Gavin Smellie and Oluseyi Smith, crossed the finish line in 38.07 seconds and appeared to win a bronze medal.

The jubilation quickly turned to disappointment when it was announced the team was disqualified for Connaughton’s infraction.

The sprinter, the only one on the team from the Beijing Games four years earlier, took full responsibility in a post-race TV interview.

“I’m so sorry everyone. My heart is broken. I let my team down. I’m sorry,” Connaughton said on Twitter afterwards. “This has been the most emotional night of my life. I’m proud to have had the chance to compete with a great team. I’m honored!”

Connaughton told Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole it is a “stupid rule.”

“It used to be three consecutive steps (on the line), now it’s one. Again, the one false start rule is stupid, the one step on the line is stupid. So many officials in this sport set the athletes up to fail. It’s a game of inches, and it’s so unforgiving,” he said.

“It’s tough on Jared, because he’s worked harder than anyone on that team to put us here,” head coach Alex Gardiner told Cole.

“He was very apologetic, but he doesn’t need to be.”

When Canada lost the bronze, the fourth-place Trinidad and Tobago team with bronze medals.

Here are some of the comments posted online after the 4x100-metre relay final:

Via Twitter:

“My brother Jared Connaughton has a heart the size of Canada! Champion of class and Canadian pride! I love you.” — Ellen Connaughton

“So proud of our 4x100m men’s relay team!! Not only proud of their speed, but so proud of @jncoolc’s character & integrity.” — Heather Moyse, Summerside native and Olympic bobsledder

“When Jared Connaughton comes home I’m buying that man a beer. Took a ton of guts to go on national TV and take responsibility.” — Jim Laing, Sportsnet

“Connaughton: “It was my fault.” Takes a big man to say it. Champ in my book.” — Eric Francis, Calgary Sun columnist

Jared Connaughton deserves medal for the way he accepted blame for a lane violation that DQ’d Canada. Not easy to do. But he did it. — Terry Bell, Vancouver Province

“It’s easy to celebrate a great victory, much more difficult to take ownership of a stinging defeat. Great job, Jared Connaughton.” — Bob MacKenzie, TSN

“Jared Cannaughton showing the world what a true Island man is made of, pure class!” — PEI Encyclopedia

“Jared! You ran like the wind! You all did! A privilege to be there! Head high! Best wishes!” — Scott Russell, CBC

From our website:

“You are a young man of world class. To accept full responsibility for this unfortunate turn of events in such a gracious way certainly speaks volumes about you as a person. Disappointing for you and your mates, but life goes on, and tomorrow will be another day. You are indeed held very, very high in my books.” — Proud islander

“Before the race and after we were taught just what Islanders are made of. Proud to be one of them and Jared re-enforced it for every Islander. You are our Hero and thanks for what you did as a true honest Islander. Thanks for the whole team as you all are winners in our hearts. You are indeed Sons of Canada.” — Betty Begg

“Jared, hold your head up high - you are a true class act! You and your teammates ran like the wind today, and deserved that medal (rule or no rule). Your foot was on the line, but not in the other lane - I think they need to rewrite the rule. You did nothing to hang your head about. P.E.I. and all of Canada are SO very proud of  you!” — Another Proud Islander

Geographic location: Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Summerside Vancouver Province Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Kim Bailey
    August 13, 2012 - 22:42

    I cannot imagine Jared's disappointment but he demonstrated wonderful grace and integrity in handling it on the world stage. Go easy on yourself....

  • Frank A
    August 13, 2012 - 20:00

    He is not a hero. Would he have told the officials he stepped on the line if the cameras hadn't caught it? I think not. He would have accepted the bronze medal and ran. It took him 10 minutes before he admitted he made the mistake.

  • spud
    August 13, 2012 - 17:04

    Whine.......Whyne ....Whyne Get that boy some cheese Suck it up you lost.

  • sage
    August 13, 2012 - 13:56

    Bunny - Not to much time on our hands at all ..... Most of us have a heart.

  • Bunny
    August 13, 2012 - 13:06

    @ Bea P -- That's a little much don't you think. Seriously??

  • bunny
    August 13, 2012 - 13:01

    I'm not sure what the big deal is. Would we be declaring him a hero if they came in 4th in the first place. Just because he wasn't arrogant about it doesn't make him a hero. Sure well done for being from a little place and making the world stage but owning up to what you did doesn't make a hero. We Islanders apparently have a little too much time on our hands.

  • sage
    August 13, 2012 - 12:48

    Michael - Get a grip man. No, you didn't see the actual race, therefore your spouting off holds no merit to me and thousands of other people in this country. First of all, they announced Canada won the Bronze medal, had it up in lights while the Canadian team & their families celebrated for 8 minutes, then in one shocking moment it was gone as Jared stepped "on" the line, not over the line. He was not going to try and make excuses of lay blame elsewhere, after he saw the replay he walked up to the media and apologized to his teammates and the county. And by the way, Trinidad & Tobaggo also stepped on the line in a different place??..... and I totally agree it is a "stupid" rule.

  • bob from cardigan
    August 13, 2012 - 12:11

    I did not see the race, I did not watch the Olympics, but it sounds like it was a tough loss for the team. Good luck in the future. By the next Olympics he will be 31, possibly still young enough to compete.

  • Over the line
    August 13, 2012 - 11:50

    Unless having been more in the center of his lane, thus avoiding the line, would have added time enough for the Trinidad and Tobago team to earn the bronze on their own. Don't recall what the time difference was, but these races are often measured in hundredths of a second.

  • Michael
    August 13, 2012 - 10:47

    Am I missing something, here? Admittedly, I was not an Olympics hound. I haven't been since they started letting the professionals (yah, Western professionals, so don't start commenting about soviiet-bloc, military-paid athletes) take the place of amateur athletes. This year, I had the added benefit of CBC shutting down all analog transmission, so the extent of my Olympic attention, which is slight at the best of times, was perked by internet news. One of the items was Connaughton and the 4x100 relay. He is being praised left, right and backwards for "standing-up" about a running error he made that cost his team a medal, no... a finish, in the Olympic final of the event. Why is he being praised? Did he go over to the officials and tell them about the infraction? I haven't read any report that describes it that way. As he says, "So many officials in this sport set the athletes up to fail." Surely it was one of those officials, or the all-seeing cameras, that caught the infraction. He would have been identified as the fault in any case. On top of that imaginary heroism, he complains that the rules are too stringent, "stupid" is the assessment that is reported. May be so, but the other athletes were able to live, and race, within them. I just listened to a CBC interview with a media manipulator, exposing some of the processes that promote stories that should have been relegated to coffee-shop talk. Perhaps that is colouring my view of congratulating an athlete's failure. To be fair, the imaginary heroism is being applied to him, not promoted by him. Now, if he did walk over to the officials' table and inform them of his error, that would be worth reporting and celebrating.

    • captain canuck
      August 13, 2012 - 14:16

      I read you carefully and I'd like to take a slight exception to this quote: "Perhaps that is colouring my view of congratulating an athlete's failure". I'd like to point out to you that no athletes fail unless their goal is winning as opposed to participating - in which case all but the winner is a failure. A true sport accepts the rules as fair to everyone involved. It sounds like you are not disappointed in the athlete, but maybe somewhat disappointed with the people fawning all 'round.

  • LCCM
    August 13, 2012 - 10:42

    Hold your head high young are a champion ! Such an excellent example not only for kids but MANY ADULT'S could take a page from your playbook...hold your head high,we as fellow Islanders & Canadians certainly are.

  • why
    August 13, 2012 - 10:22

    Why is it that we live in a society where people are not allowed to lose? Jared stepped on the line and broke the rules-he's not a hero in my mind-a hero is someone who would have come home with a medal-he's just another runner. We live in a defeatous attitude world-why can't people call a spade a spade-it was a nice try and thats about it.

      August 13, 2012 - 10:53

      RE: WHY ... If ever there was a poster person for the over used saying "to close to the forrest to see the tree's " you are it. OK , let's call a spade a totally miss the point...this goes far beyond not coming home with a medal.This is about dignity ,taking responsibilty,how you treat others ...this is about LIFE.Sad comment on your part.

    • Bea P
      August 13, 2012 - 11:06

      WHY - so, what would you call a soldier who has trained and worked hard at being the best he can be so he could stand up for his country in time of need but who got shot because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time? Our athletes put aside personal lives, take risks beyond what the ordinary person would take, give months and years of their ONLY allotted life span to represent their countries in what is after all only a sport but which brings glory and respect to the country they represent. They are not just "participants" or "another runner" as you put it. I, for one, am proud of all of our athletes and the efforts they have put into representing our country.

    • I agree with why
      August 13, 2012 - 12:38

      Like I read in one of the earlier posts-he would be a stand up guy if he had walked over to the judges and said he stepped on the line-wouldnt that have been amazing-he took a short cut-yes only one foot on a line-but maybe if he had stayed in the lines they would have ended up fourth?

    • Islander
      August 13, 2012 - 14:34

      To WHY - How often do you see people, young men, step up to the plate and admit an error? I appluad the integrity of this athlete. Yes his attitude should be celebrated, as his actions are role model worthy. I am sick and tired of seeing people of all ages jump up and down and dance around every issue shouting it, whatever it happens to be, is someone else's fault. This is an unfortunate incident but one so many can learn from. Jared is a winner whether he hits the finish line first or not.

    • Elisa James
      August 14, 2012 - 00:05

      Jared's actions and comments are exactly the types of skills we are trying to teach and he used the world stage to demonstrate it! Taking responsibility and putting the team first, are skills that go much beyond the sport venue. For those who said that Jared would have been 'truly ethical' if he told the judges he stepped on the line, clearly have not run the 200m at an elite level. He was pushing as hard as he could - and was not watching his feet!. Thank you Jared and I do hope your teammates eventually understand what they need to do as teammates and learn from your actions.

  • Taking responsibility?
    August 13, 2012 - 09:58

    Not sure I understand all the kudos for taking responsibility for the mistake when the replay cleared showed it. It's not like it wasn't made obvious by the cameras. He wasn't admitting anything that would have gone unnoticed otherwise. That said it's an unfortunate error but the rules are very clear. Still 3rd fastest time as the infraction had no bearing on the result.

  • What matters most
    August 13, 2012 - 09:36

    Jared, I have more respect for you now than I ever had, or could have had with a medal. Good sportsmanship and class is worth more than any Olympic medal, even if it doesn`t feel that way now. I`ve heard more people talk about you since you spoke on TV the other night, and it`s all been about you putting PEI and Canada on the map in a positive way. Cheers to you and to your family for raising such a top-notch guy. Good for you and`ve made a country proud!

  • Captain Canuck
    August 13, 2012 - 09:27

    Jared: Thank you for teaching the world to participate in the sport for the sake of participating in the sport, and with decorum. Heroes may look up to you.

  • Janet Gaudet
    August 13, 2012 - 09:01

    There is a quotation that I love. "You can come out of the furnace of trouble two ways: If you let it consume you, you come out a cinder, but there is a kind of metal which refuses to be consumed and comes out a star." Jeremy is a star. He is a exceptional person and a fine role model for young people. Even when he & his team-mates had their victory snatched from them, he never lost his dignity. He is a class act and I'm very proud that he's a fellow Islander.

  • Jamie Whynacht
    August 13, 2012 - 08:34

    Takes alot to take responsibility like that in front of the world and your country - no need for apologies Jared - you now just found a new way to inspire us