I'm not the most knowledgeable track fan by any stretch of the imagination. I watch the Olympics and lament not watching the World Championships, but it's hard to find time to work it in. So, an announcer would have to be quite bad for me to notice. I noticed Rick Allen's performance yesterday.
During the women's 10,000 meters Rick Allen stopped announcing as soon as Almaz Ayana crossed the finish line first. The director switched to the competitive race for second between Dibaba and I have no idea because Rick Allen never mentioned her. Craig Masback picked up the slack and pretty much called the rest of the race.
While Rick Allen's 10,000 meter call left something to be desired, his announcing of the men's 100 meters didn't go well at all. One of the fun parts of the pre-race build up is when the runners first come out to the track. Maybe Rick Allen was checking his Twitter, because he didn't mention the runners appearing. Ato Bolden tried to fill in, but by the time Bolden realized Rick Allen inexplicably wasn't talking, it was too late and it unfairly made Bolden look a little foolish.
Before a semifinal heat, Rick Allen said, "Surprisingly, Justin Gatlin is getting booed." Bolden tried to be professional. "This is a pro-Bolt crowd, so..." then very quickly adding, "not surprising." Before the final, while the camera was on Bolt, Rick Allen mentioned Bolt's dancing. I would've preferred something like, "a three-time Olympic gold medalist in this event, Bolt's charisma has made him a global superstar."
Just before the race, Rick Allen started randomly listing some of the runners' last names for no discernible reason. In a moment of foreshadowing, Justin Gatlin wasn't one of the names mentioned.
During the hush of the crowd moments before the start of the race, Rick Allen said, "The crowd, silent." Something more like, "Usain Bolt, the greatest 100 meter runner of his generation in his final race" might have set the scene better.
So Rick Allen did a terrible job in the build up, but of course he would do better during the race, you say. If you said that, then you'd be wrong. He essentially repeated the names Bolt and Coleman in what turned out to be a very tight race for second. One name not mentioned during the entire race was Gatlin, the winner.
As an announcer, your job is to make things clearer for the viewer. Rick Allen diverted the attention away from the real story and only until a good bit after the race even acknowledged, "Gatlin thinks he won." I don't know if Tom Hammond was some great track announcer or not, but I liked him. He did a great job of building the tension and rising to a crescendo as the runners crossed the finish line. He made it exciting to watch.