Sport

4x200m men lead gold rush on day one at World Relays

Relay show begins

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014    

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THE men's 4x200m relay team will be the first Jamaican team to bow into action as the inaugural IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas gets cracking at 5:30 pm (4:30 pm Jamaican time) today at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in the capital Nassau.

Though not fielding the strongest team by Jamaican standards, expectations are still high for gold in two of the four finals slated for today.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA's President Dr Warren Blake is confident that the group in The Bahamas is capable of delivering good performances.

"As usual we pick our best team although our absolute best team was not available, but this team will do us proud," Dr Blake told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

"I am not going to say whether we should win or not win, but I think they will do Jamaica proud and will all perform creditably," he noted.

Jamaica sent a 40-member team without the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, and Veronica Campbell-Brown being the two most notable absentees. But we are in good stead with Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce expected to carry the flag.

Jamaica will be in action on day one in the men's 4x200m heats and final; the women's 4x100m heats and final and the heats of the 4x400m for both sexes.

The first final of the day will be the men's 4x800m at 5:15 pm (Jamaican time) and the Kenyans are expected to dominate. They have the world record of 7:02.82 minutes. The 4x1500m women's final will take place at 6:45 pm, and again Kenya are expected to strike gold.

Jamaica's Men's 4x200m team will take to the track first in an event that is rarely contested, and despite the absence of the 200m world record holder Bolt, his training partner Blake, who has the second fastest time ever of 19.26 seconds, is expected to miss the first round heat, but should be available for the final set for 7:15 pm Jamaican time.

Olympic 200m bronze medallist Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade, Jason Livermore, Jermaine Brown, Julian Forte, or Rasheed Dwyer are expected to see Jamaica safely through the first round and into the final.

The world record for the 4x200m of 1:18.68 minutes is held by Santa Monica Track Club of the United States since 1994 and Jamaica are heavily favoured to not only win, but also break the record.

Jamaica's main challenge should come from the Americans despite the absence of inform Justin Gatlin and the suspended Tyson Gay. But the likes of Wallace Spearmon, Walter Dix, Curtis Mitchell, Isaiah Young and Maurice Mitchell should make it an interesting race.

Double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is expected to carry the baton for the ladies in both 4x100m and 4x200m. Jamaica who have a best time of 41.29 seconds will be in the heats at 4:49 pm before hopefully returning for the final at 7:42 pm to close day one.

Fraser-Pryce, along with Kerron Stewart, Carrie Russell, Schillonie Calvert, Simone Facey and Samantha Henry-Robinson should start favourites over the Americans who have the world record of 40.82 seconds done at the 2012 London Olympics.

But without Carmelita Jeter and Allison Felix, the Americans will be hard-pressed to upstage the Jamaicans, although there will be enough talent in Alexandria Anderson, Barbara Pierre, Tianna Bartoletta, Lakeisha Lawson, Stacey-Ann Smith and Jeneba Tarmoh.

Both Jamaican male and female teams will be involved in the 4x400m relays with the women's team in action in the heats at 5:40 pm. They suffered an injury blow with the withdrawal of Stephanie McPherson, but veteran Novlene Williams-Mills and Kaliese Spencer will have to carry the fight to the Sanya Richards-Ross led Americans and the Russians.

The Men's 4x400m will step on the track at 6:12 pm (Jamaican time) for their heat, and without the impressive young talent Javon Francis in their ranks, the Jamaicans will struggle for a medal.

Edino Steele, Rusheed McDonald, Dane Hyatt and Omar Johnson should be able to make it to the final set for tomorrow.

The powerful Americans led by LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay will deservedly start favourites, but the Olympic champions and host country The Bahamas has their entire winning team from London and will be hard to beat.

Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller have home advantage, thus setting the stage for an epic rematch with the record holders.

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