Chris Brown runs the first leg for The Bahamas, the eventual winners, in the 4x400m at the London 2012 Olympics (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Preview: men’s 4x400m – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The 'Golden Knights' of Bahamas caused a major upset to end the USA’s stranglehold on this title in London four years ago, but it will be hard to oppose a formidable-looking US quartet, thirsting for revenge at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Since that unforgettable triumph for the tiny Caribbean nation, the USA has returned to the summit of global men’s 4x400m relay running, banking successive world titles in 2013 and 2015 and pipping The Bahamas in their own backyard in Nassau at successive IAAF World Relays in 2014 and 2015.

The US will once again pose daunting opposition led by national champion, world leader and 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt (43.97) and supported by 2013 world 400m silver medallist Tony McQuay (44.24), who didn’t even make the US individual 400m team this time around, plus the likes of Gil Roberts (44.67) and David Verburg (44.82).

As defending champions, The Bahamas will naturally receive much pre-race attention, particularly as three-quarters of their triumphant London quartet reunite. They will be led by the 37-year-old veteran Chris Brown, who will be making his fifth Olympic appearance, Michael Mathieu and Demetrius Pinder and their squad is further strengthened by the presence of Steven Gardiner, a 44.46 400m performer this season.  

Also out of the Caribbean, look out for world silver medallists and Olympic bronze medallists Trinidad and Tobago.

Boasting quality one-lap athletes such as Olympic 400m bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon and 2014 world U20 champion Machel Cedenio, who has clocked 44.34 this season, they are sure to be a factor.

Jamaica is another nation with a rich heritage in this event, famously striking 4x400m gold at the 1952 Olympics with the assistance of icons Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint.

The 2016 squad features Jamaican 400m record-holder Rusheen McDonald and Javon Francis (44.77), who will be expected to help them push for their first Olympic men’s 4x400m medal for 16 years.

Great Britain will be seeking to maintain an impressive streak of finishing in the top five in each of past eight Olympic editions of this event.

Leading a competitive squad will be two-time European 400m champion Martyn Rooney and Matthew Hudson-Smith (44.88).

European champions Belgium, containing the three Borlee brothers – Jonathan, Kevin and Dylan – will also provide stubborn opposition and are capable of challenging for a medal.

Watch out too for Botswana, who could provide an unexpected challenge led by two sub-45-second men: Baboloki Thebe (44.22) and Isaac Makwala (44.85).

Other nations looking to make an impact will be 2015 world finalists Cuba and France, European silver medallists Poland, and India, who have clocked a handy 3:00.91 time this year.

Steve Landells for the IAAF