Athletes from across the globe will this weekend converge for the IAAF World Relays taking place in Nassau, Bahamas. It is a qualification route for next year’s Olympics in Rio, Brazil, which explains the hype and build-up this competition is getting.
Last weekend’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia was like a dress rehearsal for the big one, with A-list athletes who weren’t in the United States, now turning up for this championship which will be followed with keen interest.
Unarguably the greatest athlete to strut the tracks, Usain Bolt hugs the limelight at any event he is billed to compete in. This weekend will not be an exception as the Jamaican sprinter will be filing out with his international teammates for the World Relays. As expected, he will be the star attraction and all cameras would pan towards the man who delivers on the biggest of occasions. Such is the expectation that, people want him to do the unthinkable, shatter the records when he is running.
Having run a time of 10.12s in his first individual race this year in Rio de Janeiro, Bolt would hope to start his season in style when he competes for his country this weekend in the men’s 4x100m and 4x200m relay events. He would most likely not be in the heats, but there is an assurance of seeing him do the anchor legs of the events if his team goes through.
Now the question on everybody’s lips, will the great man break another record with Jamaica? Worthy of mention is the fact that the Jamaican team, led by Yohan Blake, stormed to a World Record (WR) of 1:18.63 in the Bahamas last year, shaving off 0.05s from the former record, which was set in 1994 by a Carl Lewis-led USA team! This, if it happens, will surely bring an expected climax in a relay event that sets the pulses of fans racing.
Despite missing the second fastest man in history, Blake, Jamaica still has a star-studded team to envy. Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey Cole, Kimarley Brown, Andrew Fisher and Julian Forte alongside Bolt will be competing in the men’s 4x100m event. London 2012 Olympic 200m bronze medallist, Warren Weir, alongside Jason Livermore, Jermaine Brown and Nickel Ashmead would also star in the 4x200m category.
This will be the first time that Bolt will be competing in the Bahamas, since 2005, before going on to jolt the world with his performances that has inducted him as a legend in the sport. Without Blake, Jamaica would be counting on Bolt, as they look to replicate last year’s achievement where they set a world record of 1: 18: 63s in the men’s 4x200m event.
If the Jamaican men’s team is intimidating, their women counterpart is formidable. World and Olympic champion, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce will be teaming up with other top athletes: Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, Shericka Williams, Schillonie Calvert and Elaine Thompson, who will all be hoping to follow up from last year, having done the fastest time in 2014.
The rivalry between Jamaican and USA is well pronounced, and will further be on the front burner this weekend when both countries meet on the track. USA as usual, will be the country that would go neck to neck with Jamaica for the top honours. USA will come under pressure to retain their Golden baton this year. Coming with a strong contingent of 51 athletes, it will be a straight fight with the Jamaicans to see who ends up tops.
In the women’s category, USA will be coming to the championship with an eye-catching team for the 4x100m event, comprising of former world 200m champion Allyson Felix, Jeneba Tarmoh, Tianna Bartoletta, Tiffany Townsend and Jessica Young. While four-time Olympic gold medallist Sanya Richards-Ross leads their 4x400m pack that includes Francena McCorory, DeeDee Trotter and Kaylin Whitney.
The men’s USA team is as strong as their women’s team. Former world champion LaShawn Merit is back for the 4x400m USA team, with Kyle Clemons, Tony McQuay, Brycen Spratling. Ryan Bailey, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers, Isaiah Young, Charles Simon and Tyson Gay make up a mouth-watering 4x100m team to keep an eye on.
While silver medallist at the 2013 World Championship Curtis Mitchell, Joe Morris, Wallace Spearmon, Justin Walker, Gatlin and Bailey makes up the 4x200m team. In truth this team is also capable of breaking the 4x200m Word Record, so we’re predicting that record will go come Sunday night – whether it is USA or Jamaica that will take it, only time will tell.