The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
During a preOlympic training camp in Monaco in mid-July, a U.S. relay quartet signalled that they are serious about regaining the Olympic title that historically was oftentimes considered theirs for the taking.
Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey teamed to produce a solid 37.61 run in the principality, a performance just outside the all-time top-10. It was also faster than the 37.82 clocking produced in mid-April by a Jamaican quartet that included World 100m champion and current world leader Yohan Blake and World record holder and reigning Olympic champion Usain Bolt, providing a morale boost in an event where it's very much needed.
In 2004 the U.S. were edged for gold by a scant 0.01 by Great Britain & Northern Ireland and four years ago in Beijing they didn't even get the baton around the track in the qualifying round. The storyline is even more dire in recent World Championships. In 2011 a botched exchange resulted in a DNF in the final, and in Berlin 2009 the team was disqualified in the preliminary round. They won’t admit it out loud, but there’s plenty of pride on the line in London.
The task will be daunting considering the form displayed by Jamaica who have broken the World record twice in the past four years. In Beijing Steve Mullings, Michael Frater, Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell clocked 37.10; in Daegu last year it was Nesta Carter, Frater, Blake and Bolt improving it to 37.04. The latter foursome are all in the London relay pool, along with former World record holder Asafa Powell. In terms of pure raw speed, it's a recipe for history's first sub-37 second performance.
France was second in Daegu last year and must again be considered a medal threat along with Trinidad & Tobago, who’ll be looking to regroup from a fifth place finish in Daegu. Germany produced an impressive 38.02 in Weinheim on 27 July to also arrive in London with medal ambitions.
European champion Netherlands and St. Kitts and Nevis, the 2011 World Championships bronze medallists, are also expected to be in the mix. Great Britain & Northern Ireland will obviously have plenty of support, although the squad isn’t quite on par with the 2004 Olympic champion quartet.