In Sydney the USA team included Marion JONES who contributed a stellar 49.40 third leg taking the team 15 metres clear of the Jamaican contingent. JONES won’t be in the team in Edmonton but other strong relay runners, such as Monique HENNAGAN, have been named to the US relay pool.
The strongest squad, though, could be Russia’s, which has four athletes all with individual times below 51.20 – Olesya ZYKINA (50.15), Yuliya SOTNIKOVA (50.73), Anastasiya KAPACHINSKAYA (50.97) and Natalya ANTYUKH (51.19) – three of whom set their personal bests this year.
Jamaica will counter with a strong team that could include 32 year old Sandie RICHARDS who won the silver medal over 400m in Athens four years ago, Deon HEMMINGS the 1996 Olympic 400m hurdles champion who finished 2nd in Sydney, and Lorraine GRAHAM, second in the 400m in Sydney. Surely they can find a fourth member to bolster their chances of striking gold.
This will likely come down to a contest between these three squads unless the British can field an inspired team. Katharine MERRY, the world's fastest 400m runner this season has pulled out of the championships, but the team could still include Donna FRASER, fourth in the 2000 Olympics, whose pre-Olympic training partner was none other than Cathy FREEMAN; Catherine MURPHY who ran a personal best of 51.84 earlier this season; and Natasha DANVERS, a finalist in the 400m hurdles in Sydney, among others.
American domination of the 4 x 400m relay stretches back for years and could come to a crashing end at these championships.