Much of Russia’s 4x400m pool will double in the 4x800m, where the world best dates back to 1980 with the Soviet Union’s 7:50.17 – a performance which equates to roughly 1:57.5 for each leg.
It’s impossible not to consider Kenya the favourite at this distance, however, with the likes of world champion Eunice Sum and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei in their line-up.
To challenge, the USA brings Moscow bronze medallist Brenda Martinez, world Indoor champion Chanelle Price, world junior champion Ajee Wilson, and former 1500m Diamond Race winner Morgan Uceny, but even that might not be enough to challenge the Kenyans.
The real question may be strategy at this rarely-run distance. Will the Kenyans try to break away early and build an insurmountable advantage, or will they be content to stay in a pack and count on superior speed on the last leg to win? Neither strategy is a certainty.
Australia, France, Jamaica, Mexico, Romania, and Trinidad and Tobago are the other six teams entered in this straight-final race, to be held on Sunday.
Parker Morse for the IAAF