Series20 Apr 2019

Fab five: World Relays rousing races


Fab five: World Relays rousing races (© Getty Images)

In the third of the fab five series ahead of the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019, set for 11-12 May, we look back on five rousing races that took place in the previous four editions of the IAAF's newest World Athletics Series event.


Mixed 4x400m


Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo during the mixed 4x400m at the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017


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The inaugural mixed 4x400m relay to be staged at an IAAF World Relays provided the perfect crescendo to the third edition and ecstasy for the host nation in a rip-roaring battle.

Played out to a thunderous atmosphere inside the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, The Bahamas held a five-second lead at halfway thanks to blistering legs by Steven Gardiner and Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Paul Dedewo tilted the balance of the race in the USA’s favour by generating an eight-second swing on leg three only for Michael Mathieu to catch and successfully pass Claudia Francis on the anchor leg to secure a near three-second victory.


Women’s 4x200m


Kimberlyn Duncan World Relays


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With its massive staggers, perhaps few relay races are more bemusing to follow than the two-lap 4x200m. Yet that is also part of its charm and at the inaugural event in Nassau, the women’s race served up a race of high drama.

As the race started to take some kind of clear shape at the final exchange, it was Great Britain - and not the pre-event favourites the USA or Jamaica - that held the advantage.

However, on anchor Kimberlyn Duncan hunted down Britain’s Asha Philip to take the gold by 0.16 in 1:29.45 with Jamaica – who had reigning world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce running their final leg - having to settle for third.


Men’s 4x400m


USA's LaShawn Merritt and Michael Mathieu of The Bahamas in the men's 4x400m at the 2014 IAAF World Relays


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Amid an ear-splitting racket created by 17,000 passionate and colourful Bahamian supporters, the USA, or more specifically LaShawn Merritt, broke the hearts of the home supports in a vintage 4x400m.

After leg one the Bahamian team also known as 'The Golden Knights' sat fifth through Latoy Williams only for Demetrius Pinder to advance them to third after leg two.

A scintillating 44.20 by Bahamian one-lap icon Chris 'Fireman' Brown on the penultimate leg put the home team in front to raise the atmosphere to fever pitch inside the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.

However, Bahamian hearts were broken as Michael Mathieu could not repel the challenge of Merritt as the USA exacted some measure of revenge for their shock defeat to the Caribbean nation at the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Men’s 4x800m


Clayton Murphy of the United States crosses the line ahead of Kenya's Ferguson Rotich in the men's 4x800m at the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017


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At halfway and with Kenya holding a 10-metre advantage, the African distance-running superpower appeared to be holding all the aces in an intriguing men’s 4x800m scrap in Nassau.

Yet they did not reckon on the dogged, battling qualities of a US team who refused to yield. Casimir Loxsom on the penultimate leg ate up Kenya’s advantage on leg three and passed the baton to anchor runner Clayton Murphy holding a small lead.

Shrewdly, Murphy allowed Ferguson Rotich to take on the pace before he launched his winning attack sweeping past the Kenyan mid-way down the home straight to gold and glory by a victory margin of 0.54.


Men’s 4x400m


Onkabetse Nkobolo of Botswana in the 4x400m heats at the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017


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In an epic 4x400m encounter in Nassau in 2017, experience shaded youth as the USA held off a late challenge from Botswana.

At the end of leg three, the US, thanks to an aggressive piece of sprinting by Kyle Clemons, held a slight advantage from Botswana and Jamaica.

The final leg served up an intriguing showdown between the vastly experienced former world and Olympic one-lap champion LaShawn Merritt and teenage titan Karabo Sibana of Botswana. The youngest made a brave dart at victory but the wily American staved off the challenge to take gold by 0.15 in 3:02.13.

Steve Landells for the IAAF