More than 500 athletes from around the world will compete across five relay disciplines this weekend (April 22-23) as IAAF World Relays action returns to Nassau, Bahamas.
USA won four of the men’s events and three of the women’s at the 2015 edition of the World Relays, with the nation having claimed the Golden Baton, which is awarded to the team who tallies the most points, in both 2014 and 2015. The competition is now held every other year and the US team will be looking for a third consecutive success.
This year’s programme includes the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m for both men and women, plus a mixed 4x400m. The top eight finishers in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m will secure automatic entry into the IAAF World Championships in London this summer.
There’s also a USD $1.26 million total prize pot up for grabs, with the winning teams in each event taking home $50,000. Should a team break a world record, an additional bonus of USD $50,000 will also be awarded.
The current ratified world records for the disciplines on the 2017 programme are:
4x100m: Jamaica 36.84, 11 August 2012, London
4x200m: Jamaica 1:18.63, 24 May 2014, Nassau
4x400m: United States 2:54.29, 22 August 1993, Stuttgart
4x800m: Kenya 7:02.43, 25 August 2006, Brussels
4x100m: United States 40.82, 10 August 2012, London
4x200m: United States 1:27.46, 29 April 2000, Philadelphia
4x400m: USSR 3:15.17, 1 October 1988, Seoul
4x800m: USSR 7:50.17, 5 August 1984, Moscow
In the men’s 4x100m, USA’s men return to defend the title they won over Jamaica two years ago. Justin Gatlin, Marvin Bracy, Mike Rodgers, Ronnie Baker and Leshon Collins are on the team, while the Jamaican squad includes Yohan Blake, although Asafa Powell was a late withdrawal.
Olympic silver medallists Japan also have a team entered, although it does not include the four athletes who ran in that final in Rio. Olympic bronze medallists Canada have Andre de Grasse among those in the squad.
The British team should make its presence felt, with Adam Gemilli, Chijindu Ujah, Danny Talbot, Ojie Edoburun, Richard Kilty and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey all on the entry list.
Britain will not have a women’s 4x100m team in action, with the squad having been withdrawn by British Athletics as a “precautionary decision” due to “minor injury concerns”.
Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson features on the Jamaica team alongside Christania Williams, Sashalee Forbes, Simone Facey, Gayon Evans and Natasha Morrison. Hoping to deny them will be a USA team featuring athletes including Tianna Bartoletta and English Gardner.
World champion Dafne Schippers is among the star names as she features in the Dutch squad.
Jamaica vs USA head-to-heads are expected in both 4x200m events, although Britain’s men should also be strong. Here Zharnel Hughes features on the entry list in place of Aikines-Aryeetey.
Britain’s men’s team for the 4x400m includes Theo Campbell, Jarryd Dunn, Matthew Hudson-Smith, Martyn Rooney, Delano Williams and Rabah Yousif, while the women in action will be Eilidh Doyle, Emily Diamond, Kelly Massey, Laviai Nielsen, Anyika Onuora and Christine Ohuruogu.
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and the London 2012 men’s 4x400m gold medal-winning team are among those on the host nation squad, while the Belgium team includes Borlee brothers Dylan, Jonathan and Kevin. USA’s women have beaten Jamaica into second at both the past two editions of the IAAF World Relays.
For the 4x800m, the Kenyan men’s team includes world under-20 800m champion Kipyegon Bett and 2016 Diamond Race 800m winner Ferguson Rotich, while on the USA team is Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy. Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski are in action for Poland.
An American women’s team including Chanelle Price and Laura Roesler is expected to retain the title. The Belarus team features world champion Maryna Arzamasova.