Action in the opening round heats of the men's 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
After relinquishing their world crown at the World Championships in London to Trinidad and Tobago two years ago, the USA will be desperate to regain the men’s 4x400m title they have long viewed as their property.
In pure talent and one-lap ability, the US squad, containing the likes of Michael Norman (43.45) and Fred Kerley (43.64) – two of the seven fastest one-lap exponents in history – as well as sub-45-second performers Nathan Strother, Vernon Norwood and Michael Cherry and Wil London, are streets ahead of the opposition.
But relays are never that straightforward as the US are all too aware. At the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019 in May they were humbled by Trinidad and Tobago in a titanic battle before the US were to ensure further pain following their disqualification for a lane violation.
Trinidad and Tobago, who also won a World Championship silver medal in 2015, boast an experienced squad led by Machel Cedenio, who has a season’s best of 44.52, supported by 2017 world 200m bronze medallist Jereem Richards.
In pure flat speed they lag some way behind the USA but such is their impressive recent record of delivering when it counts, it is not beyond the realms of possibility they could once again snag gold.
Jamaica, the Olympic silver medallists, boast no fewer than three sub-45-second performers in 2019, and the men in green and gold could also pose a strong danger to the USA.
Akeem Bloomfield (44.40), Demish Gaye (44.83) and Nathon Allen (44.85) have all impressed this year. Their squad is further bolstered by Rusheen McDonald, who ran a national record of 43.93 at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.
The European challenge is led by Great Britain, who have claimed successive bronze medals at the past two World Championships. European individual 400m champion Matthew Hudson-Smith leads their pool of relay runners with veteran Martyn Rooney making his eighth successive World Championship appearance in the 4x400m.
European champions Belgium, who placed fourth at the 2017 World Championships, have proved consistent performers in recent years and with the Borlee brothers, Kevin and Dylan, along with world U20 400m champion Jonathan Sacoor in their ranks, expect them to feature.
Host nation Qatar has entered a strong squad although with doubts over the fitness of national 400m record-holder Abdalelah Haroun, who has yet to compete over one-lap this year, and with 400m hurdles specialist Abderraham Samba only making a handful of appearances this year, this may blunt their 4x400m challenge.
Italy were the impressive 4x400m winners at the European Team Championships and with the speed of Davide Re (44.77) they could be dark horses.
France, who finished just behind Italy at the European Team Championships, also look to have a strong all-round squad. European bronze medallists Spain with Oscar Husillos (45.83) in their ranks have also performed consistently well in 4x400m relays at recent championships.
Steve Landells for the IAAF