Messages congratulating Canada’s 4x100-metre relay team flooded Twitter as the sprinters appeared to win a hard-fought bronze medal in one of the London Olympics’ marquee events.
Just minutes later, the tweets of elation turned into messages of consolation after the Canadian team was disqualified for a lane violation.
“Whoa! 4x100m bronze. Congrats to a bunch of nice guys,” tweeted marathoner Reid Coolsaet as Canada’s Justyn Warner crossed the finish line in 38.07 seconds, giving the Canadians an apparent bronze.
“Wahoo!!!! What a race!! Congratulations @justynwarner @ianwarnersr bronze for Canada! Well earned hardware! Way to go boys!” added gymnast Peng Peng Lee.
But Canada was disqualified after third-leg runner Jared Connaughton stepped on the border of his lane before passing the baton to Warner for the anchor leg. It was another heartbreaking apology from a Canadian Olympian as Connaughton addressed the nation on Twitter.
“I’m so sorry everyone. My heart is broken. I let my team down. I’m sorry,” he posted.
Connaughton received scores of Twitter messages from Canadians supporting him and telling him he doesn’t need to apologize.
His sister also jumped to his defence.
“My brother Jared Connaughton has a heart the size of Canada!” tweeted Ellen Connaughton. “Champion of class and Canadian pride! I love you.”
His fellow athletes were also quick to support the team on the social media website.
“We’re a team Jarad,” tweeted triathlete Simon Whitfield. “Ride the ups & downs out together. Proud of you guys, you’ll recover from this and be even better next time.”
“The race of a lifetime for our Canadian Boys in the 4x100m I lost my voice in the stadium tonight. You’re my heros! #BronzeInMyEyes,” added bobsledder Helen Upperton, who watched the race live.
Former skier Brian Stemmle had plenty of sympathy for Connaughton.
“I know it hurts; it will for a long time,” he tweeted. “Trust me, u will learn more from this than u could from the bronze u deserve.”
Stemmle also added the hashtag #flagbearer, one of several people on Twitter who suggested Connaughton should carry the Canadian flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
The team also got words of support from members of the Canadian relay team that won gold in Atlanta in 1996.
“I feel for the team. U guys brought it today...,” tweeted former 100-metre world record holder Donovan Bailey.
“Still proud of my relay Boyz,” added Bailey’s teamamte Bruny Surin.