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Appetite for IAAF World Relays

400m relay

Last week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot ended on a high with a world indoor record* in the 4x400m, providing a glimpse as to the kind of excitement that could be in store at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, on 24-25 May.

The US teams won both relays at the Ergo Arena last weekend, the women setting a North American indoor record of 3:24.83 and the men setting a world indoor record of 3:02.13.

They will be among the favourites to win in the Bahamian capital in little more than ten weeks from now, but their victories are by no means a guarantee.

At last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, host nation Russia beat USA’s women’s team as their run of world 4x400m titles came to an end.

At the London 2012 Olympics one year prior, the men’s US 4x400m team was overhauled by The Bahamas in a memorable race. With the expected vocal support in Nassau, The Bahamas could once again triumph over the might of the USA.

But the relays drama in recent years hasn’t just been reserved for the 4x400m.

Both 4x100m world records were broken at the London 2012 Olympics. Usain Bolt anchored Jamaica to a 36.84 clocking, while the US women ran 40.82 to smash the long-standing 41.37 that was set by East Germany in 1985.

The IAAF World Relays will have more than just the 4x100m and 4x400m, though. Also on the programme will be the 4x200m, 4x800m and 4x1500m.

Of the world records in existence for those events, the women’s 4x800m has stood for the longest. Set by the Soviet Union in 1984, their time of 7:50.17 roughly translates to 1:57.54 per leg. The men’s world record is somewhat more recent, set by Kenya in 2006 with a time of 7:02.43.

Perhaps the most vulnerable world records in Nassau will be the 4x1500m marks. Kenya holds the men’s record at 14:36.23, while Australia owns the women’s mark at 17:09.75.

As hosts, The Bahamas has indicated they will field a full quota of 10 teams; one for each event. USA is expected to do likewise, while nations such as Kenya and Jamaica will doubtless play to their strengths in the distance events and sprints respectively.

Whether individual teams are focused on records, qualifying times or victories, the one guarantee of relay events is that there will always be excitement. And lots of it.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

*subject to the usual ratification procedures

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