Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the womens 4x100m Relay at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: women’s 4x100m – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

Jamaica won last time in Moscow, and again at the IAAF World Relays in May this year. The USA are the world leaders and reigning Olympic champions.

So who wins the 4x100m relay in Beijing?

Logic says it will be one of these two, but logic doesn’t factor in getting the baton around smoothly, nor does it pay much attention to inspired bits of relay running from ‘small fry’ nations such as The Bahamas at both the 1999 World Championships and the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Funny things happen in sprint relays (though it’s not so funny if you happen to be involved in a dropped baton and face the walk of shame off the track while the scoreboard replays the disaster continually). The composition of the teams in the final and the medals and the overall results will all likely be influenced by dropped batons and botched changeovers.

The fastest individuals are no insurmountable advantage in a 4x100m unless they can combine to get the baton around the track without major mishap. That said, both the USA and Jamaica have enough individual talent – backed up by past relay performances – to claim the top two places in Beijing.

But in which order? The USA are Olympic champions, world record-holders (with the 40.82 the Olympic gold medal team ran) and have won at recent IAAF Diamond League competitions in Monaco and London. That would normally entitle them to start as favourites.

Jamaica, however, are the defending champions and won at this year’s IAAF World Relays.

Two years ago in Moscow the Caribbean powerhouse set a championship record 41.29, the second-fastest time ever, in easily defeating a US team which made a disastrous hash of the second change.

Then, at the World Relays earlier this year, a Jamaican quartet of Simone Facey, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and Veronica Campbell-Brown defeated the USA (Tina Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Kimberlyn Duncan and Carmelita Jeter), 42.14 to 42.32. Neither team was super-slick on the changeovers, but there was still a half-second gap back to Great Britain in third, with Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Nigeria all following within 0.15.

Given the relatively short passage of time between the World Relays at the start of May and the World Championships, those teams are all likely to be prominent again in Beijing. The Netherlands (second to the USA at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London), Ukraine, Germany and Russia could also be in the mix.

Len Johnson for the IAAF