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Men's 4 x 400m Relay PREVIEW

With all six relay pool runners having season bests under 45 seconds - and with three of them each incredibly posting at least five races under this benchmark - the US finds itself in a position in which the gold medal is theirs to lose.  Only a disaster could negate the Americans’ depth in an event they have dominated with few exceptions during Olympic history.

But it’s a group of runners almost devoid of international experience. Only three of the six have ever competed outside of his native land prior to this summer. 

Highlighted by his Olympic Trials win in a world-leading 44.37, 20-year-old Jeremy Wariner is enjoying an eviable season with six runs under 45, and he will be the banner leader.  Even if the usually stoic Texan shows a bit of nervousness in being thrust onto the world stage for the first time in the men’s 400 metres, that bit of anxiety should be well in the past when he takes the baton in the relay event which ends the Athletics programme. 

Darold Williamson, Warriner’s teammate at Baylor University, has virtually an equal record with his quintet of sub-45 times topped by 44.51.  A fourth-place finish at the Olympic Trials, only 0.01 behind the third-place runner, relegated the 21-year-old to relay-only duty in Athens, but it ensures the US of some talented fresh legs for that event. 

Jamaica, the second team on the basis of qualifying times, is led by Brandon Simpson (44.88) and reigning Commonwealth champion Michael Blackwood (44.95), who finished one-two at the Jamaican Championships, plus World Indoor 400 silver medallist Davian Clarke (45.11). 

Although France and Bahamas are third and fourth, respectively, in the relay rankings, all of their times came from the 2003 season when both nations had stronger personnel. Gone from the Bahamian roster is 2001 World Champion Avard Moncur, and the French have lost European 400 hurdles recordholder Stéphane Diagana to recent retirement. 

Chris Brown and three other young runners with season bests under 46 seconds will attempt to bring a medal home to Nassau, while Leslie Djhone and Marc Racquil - two finalists in the 400 in Paris - will try to do the same with the French squad.

Like the Bahamas, Great Britain has at least five runners under 46 seconds this season, led by Tim Benjamin (45.04) and former World Indoor champion Daniel Caines (45.29). 

The German quartet which scored a thrilling victory at the European Cup in June returns its entire 3:01.78 lineup, including European champion Ingo Schultz and young Bastian Swillims, whose 44.62 final run led to the victory.

EG