Top action in prospect at relays

Top action in prospect at relays

Jamaican sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan Blake headline a raft of high-profile athletes who will debut at the inaugural two-day IAAF World Relays this weekend.

Launched by world athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, to increase the appeal of track events to a younger audience, the relays (4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800 and 4x1500m) promise to throw up a high-octane, drama-filled competition. 

The IAAF has certainly not messed about with planning. The 15,000-seater Thomas A Robinson stadium in the Bahamian capital is a sell-out for the weekend’s action, and there is a total prize purse of $1.4 million on offer for the 600-plus athletes from 43 countries, with $50,000 going to winning teams and a further $50,000 paid out for new world records.

Importantly, and perhaps underlining the strength in depth on show, the top eight teams in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m will automatically qualify for the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Usain Bolt will not make the trip as he rehabilitates ahead of a return to the track next month, and Veronica Campbell-Brown is also an absentee, but Jamaica have otherwise named their strongest sprint team.

Kenya look set to be going for record breaking in at least the 4x1500M relay, with Asbel Kiprop named in an impressive middle-distance team. Fraser-Pryce, who skipped this week’s Diamond League in Shanghai after picking up a shin injury, is entered for both the 4x100m and 4x200m.

The “Pocket Rocket”, the reigning two-time Olympic sprint champion who also claimed world 100M gold in Moscow last year and world indoor 60M gold in Sopot in March, was the anchor of Jamaica’s championship-record-setting 4x100M relay team in the Russian capital, the second-fastest of all time at 41.29 seconds. She also led off Jamaica’s silver medal team at the London Olympics, bested there only by the United States team’s 40.82 world record run.