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Men’s 4x100 m - USA will need to

Men’s 4x100 mUSA will need to "get the stick around …."

SEVILLE, Spain - Thanks to the extraordinary performances of Maurice Greene this summer, the Americans should have the fastest 4x100m team in the world in Seville and could break the world record of 37.40 equalled in 1993 in Stuttgart. But as one US sprinter once memorably said: "you’ve got to get that stick around." The flat speed of Greene (9.79), Tim Harden (9.92 in 99), Tim Montgomery (10.01 in 99) and Jon Drummond (10.04 in 99) count for nothing if the Americans don’t improve the baton exchanging skills they showed in the last three World Championships. Fumbles in all those editions handed victories to their great Northern rivals Canada who have, indeed, won the last three major titles that matter: the 95 and 97 World and 1996 Olympic Games titles.

But of course, Canada’s success in that period owed almost everything to the rampant form of the former world record holder Donovan Bailey. Still recovering from his achilles operation, the sprinter is at least three tenths of a second slower than in 1997 and without him, Canada could only finish behind Brazil in the recent Pan American Games. Ironically, while Bailey is struggling, his team-mate Bruny Surin is having an excellent season and is a realistic contender for a medal in the individual 100m event.

With Canada showing some weaknesses, the biggest challenge to the Americans (apart from their butter fingers) will come from the young lions of Great Britain. Led by two young men who have broken 10 seconds for the first time this summer, Jason Gardener (9.98) and Dwain Chambers (9.99), the Britons can also count on last year’s European 100m champion Darren Campbell and the Commonwealth 200m champion Julian Golding. A British team composed of Gardener, Campbell, Golding and Marlon Devonish ran 38.16 in Paris recently, the fastest in 1999 by a national team. The French proved in 1990 that a highly trained team could break the 4x100 world record, and the Britons have been carefully honing their skills in recent training camps.

Brazil clocked 38.18 at the Pan Americans and will be led in Seville by the two Da Silvas, Andre Domingos (10.06 in 99) and Claudinei Quirino (10.12 in 99). Other outsiders are likely to be Nigeria and Ghana.