Jamaica’s relay teams in Rio – the likely runners

BY PAUL A REID Observer Writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 31, 2016

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There will be a familiarity among the four Jamaican relay teams at the Olympics starting in Rio with a number of experienced athletes available to the coaches for selection.


Jamaica are expected to win medals in at least three of the four relays, especially in the men’s 4x100m, where the Usain Bolt-led team is expected to defend their title and ‘three-peat’ after wins in Beijing in 2008 and London 2012, both in world record times.


Despite the absence of dependable lead-off man Nesta Carter for the first time since 2007, the Jamaican men’s sprint relay team still pack enough power to beat anyone one any given day.


With the exception of Jevaughn Minzie, the other five members of the squad have all been part of gold medal- winning teams at both the Olympics and World Championships, and Jamaica should extend their unbeaten run at senior major global championships.


The trick could be finding a replacement for Carter, and Asafa Powell could be perfect for the part after leading of several relay teams while he was part of the MVP club.


Powell, the former world record holder, not running the 100m, he will have time to practice his start for the August 18th preliminary heats as well as staying fresh to run both rounds, a big plus for the team.


A likely team for the final could be Powell to Nickel Ashmeade to Yohan Blake, with Bolt anchoring.


With Bolt, national double champion Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade all running the double, the coaching staff could be forced to use both allowable substitutions in the first round and Kemar Bailey-Cole, a relay gold medallist in London and again at the World Championships in Moscow in 2013, and Minzie could be called to do duties in the first round.


It also means that one of the trio of Bolt, Blake or Ashmeade will have to run the preliminaries at 11:40 am Brazil time before the 200m final later that day.


The women’s team (4x100m) includes three of the four members who won the gold in Beijing last year- Elaine Thompson — the world’s fastest woman so far this year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell Brown.


Add to that the experienced Simone Facey who has a World Championships relay gold from Berlin in 2009 and a silver from Osaka in 2007, Christania Williams and Sashalee Forbes and they will start favourites.


The women’s 4x400m team will be wearing the bullseye on their backs after their massive upset of the favoured American team last year in Beijing (World Champs), and all four ladies are back.


National champion Stephenie Ann McPherson, World Championships bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Christine Day and Novlene Williams-Mills should be the same foursome that will run in the final, all things being well.


Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, who ran a personal best 51.03 seconds at the JAAA Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships, and Chrisann Gordon who has run 51.02 seconds are the reserves who could feature in the preliminaries on Friday, August 19.


Of the four relay teams, the men’s 4x400m will have the most to prove with just a silver medal in Moscow to show. Jamaica missed a bronze in Beijing after being edged by the Great Britain team.


Four years ago in London after telling reporters after the individual 400m, he would not choose himself to run the relays, Jermaine Gonzales was selected and failed to finish his leg.


A lot will be riding on the shoulders of Javon Francis who is expected to make it to the final of the 400m but will have a few days to recover.


Converted jumper Fitzroy Dunkley has had a long season on the US NCAA circuit and it will be left to see what he has left in the tank, while Rusheen McDonald, Javere Bell and Nathon Allen should be able to challenge for a medal.

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