The real middle-distance battle will be joined in the longest relay, with three world powers bringing ‘A’ teams to the table.
Kenya again has an edge with world champion Asbel Kiprop, but this is the only relay Ethiopia is contesting, and they also send a top-grade squad. The spoilers may be Bahrain behind 2009 world champion Yusuf Saad Kamel.
Kenya’s stated goal of a world record at this distance come down to race tactics. The mark already belongs to them at 14:36.23, an average of 3:39 per leg when, as Kiprop has pointed out, everyone on the Kenyan team has run 3:32 or faster. Kiprop will be joined by Collins Cheboi, James Mugut (who would be coming back from the 4x800m the day before, if he runs), Nixon Chepseba, and Silas Kiplagat.
Ethiopia brings Aman Wote, Chalachew Shimels, Mekonnen Gebremedhin, Soresa Fida and Zebene Alemayehu. Both Wote and Gebremedhin have sub-3:32 PBs and world indoor medals.
Bahrain’s team is heavily decorated with both Kamel and Rashid Ramzi on the squad, but most of those medals have a slightly older vintage than those of Kenya and Ethiopia.
The teams from the USA (featuring Olympic silver medallist Leonel Manzano) and Australia (featuring Ryan Gregson, another sub-3:32 ace) have outside shots. Poland, with Adam Kczszot and Marcin Lewandowski doubling back, may be a contender, as might Qatar with Mohamad Al-Garni as their ace.
Parker Morse for the IAAF