Usain Bolt among the athletes in IAAF World Relays action in Nassau, Bahamas, where spots for the Rio Olympics are up for grabs
The USA won the IAAF World Relays ‘golden baton’ 12 months ago for being the most dominant team at the first ever edition of this event. The nation will again field a strong squad in Nassau, Bahamas, from May 2-3 as the event returns to the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium and athletes battle it out for victory in the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and distance medley relay events.
Having missed the competition last year, Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt is set to make his World Relays debut this weekend and is entered as part of both the 4x100m and 4x200m teams. “I hear the meet was a lot of fun last year and there was a great atmosphere,” commented the 100m and 200m world record-holder. “Jamaica has a long and successful tradition in relays and when we put on the national colours we always do our best to make the country proud.”
Joining Bolt on the Jamaica team is set to be the likes of double world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 4x200m and three-time Olympic gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 4x100m.
With Bolt, Jamaica is favourite to win the men’s 4x100m, but the USA will be the team to beat in most sprints. In the women’s 4x100m, for example, they are bringing three of the world record-breaking squad from London 2012 – Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter.
Kenya won the men’s 4x800m and both 4x1500m events last year and would this year look to secure similar success in the 4x800m and distance medley (consisting of a 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m) – the latter replacing last year’s 4x1500m – though world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop will be missing from the team having withdrawn from the event. Alfred Kipketer, the world junior and youth 800m winner, does form part of the East African nation’s squad, as does Olympic 800m bronze medallist Timothy Kitum. A strong US team is set to compete in the women’s distance medley, with the line-up including 2009 world bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury and US champion Ajee Wilson.
The host nation has a team that includes the four men who struck gold in the 4x400m for Bahamas at the 2012 Olympics. Chris Brown, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu are set to compete in the 4x400m, while Demetrius Pinder has been named in the 4x100m and 4x200m teams.
The British team includes world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, plus Ashleigh Nelson, Anyika Onuora and Asha Philip, who formed three quarters of the team that broke the UK 4x100m record last year, in the sprint relays. Included in the 4x400m teams are the likes of Martyn Rooney, Jack Green, Eilidh Child and Seren Bundy-Davies.
Other big names in Nassau include Christophe Lemaitre and Jimmy Vicaut from France, Dominican Republic’s Lugelin Santos, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, Poland’s Adam Kszczot, plus Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon and Michelle-Lee Ahye.
More than 600 athletes are set to compete in the five relay disciplines, with the top eight teams in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m automatically qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
In addition, the top eight teams in each event will be awarded prize money with the gold medallists taking home $50,000 from a total prize purse of $1.4million. There’s an additional bonus of $50,000 up for grabs for world records.
Current world records
4x100m: Jamaica 36.84
4x200m: Jamaica 1:18.63
4x400m: United States 2:54.29
4x800m: Kenya 7:02.43
Distance medley: Kenya 9:15.56
4x100m: United States 40.82
4x200m: United States 1:27.46
4x400m: USSR 3:15.17
4x800m: USSR 7:50.17
Distance medley: United States 10:42.57 (indoors)
4x100m: Roy Ejiakuekwu, James Ellington, Richard Kilty, Andy Robertson, Sean Safo-Antwi, Danny Talbot
4x400m: George Caddick, Jack Green, Martyn Rooney, Conrad Williams, Delano Williams, Rabah Yousif
4x100m: Margaret Adeoye, Ashleigh Nelson, Anyika Onuora, Asha Philip, Bianca Williams, Jodie Williams
4x400m: Margaret Adeoye, Seren Bundy-Davies, Eilidh Child, Shana Cox, Kelly Massey, Anyika Onuora
Timetable (in local time, which is five hours behind the UK)
Saturday May 2
19:00 Men’s 4x400m heats
19:29 Women’s 4x200m heats
19:46 Men’s 4x100m heats
20:09 Men’s 4x800m final
20:32 Women’s 4x400m heats
21:02 Women’s distance medley final
21:29 Men’s 4x100m final B
21:36 Women’s 4x200m final
21:52 Men’s 4x100m final
Sunday May 3
19:00 Men’s 4x200m heats
19:20 Women’s 4x100m heats
19:40 Women’s 4x800m final
20:02 Women’s 4x400m final B
20:12 Women’s 4x400m final
20:31 Men’s distance medley final
20:57 Men’s 4x400m final B
21:06 Men’s 4x200m final
21:23 Women’s 4x100m final B
21:30 Women’s 4x100m final
21:46 Women’s 4x400m final
Provisional entry lists can be found here.