At the previous two editions of the IAAF World Relays, the men’s 4x400m has been a race to remember as The Bahamas duelled in unforgettable fashion with the US, though eventually had to concede on both occasions thanks to a pair of tactically astute anchor-leg performances from LaShawn Merritt.
This year, however, they have good reason to feel confident of upsetting the odds, as they so famously did at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where Ramon Miller edged past Angelo Taylor down the home straight in the men’s 4x400m to give the tiny Caribbean nation their only medal of the Games.
In the years since, the US has once again proved unbeatable in this discipline, though the Bahamian quartet will hope to raise the roof with a win in Sunday night’s final and they certainly have a team of considerable talent.
Their star man is Steven Gardiner, who broke the Bahamian 400m record when blitzing his way to a 44.26 clocking at the Grenada Invitational in recent weeks, by far the fastest time in the world this year. He will be backed up by a squad of reliable relay performers that includes Michael Mathieu, Andretti Bain, Elroy McBride and Ashley Riley.
In 2015 their star veteran Chris Brown had a memorable duel with LaShawn Merritt on the final leg in Nassau, the American edging victory in the end, and Merritt will be hoping for more of the same on Sunday.
The Olympic 400m bronze medallist will be joined in Nassau by a squad that includes Tony McQuay, Gil Roberts, Kyle Clemons, Paul Dedewo and Arman Hall. Merritt opened his season with a time of 20.42 in recent weeks, while McQuay got his legs firing with a heavily wind-aided (5.1m/s) 10.13 clocking for 100m in late March before finishing fifth at the Grenada Invitational 400m in 46.77.
It would be unwise to suggest this is a two-team race, however, not with nations such as Belgium sending a trio of Borlees into battle. Brothers Dylan, Jonathan and Kevin teamed up with Julien Watrin to clock a national record of 2:59.33 to take third in Nassau two years ago, and with the same quartet returning this year, they should be in the mix once again.
Botswana has been an up-and-coming force in the 4x400m in recent years, thanks in no small part to the mercurial talent of youngsters Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda, who will join forces with established senior Isaac Makwala in what looks a team of formidable talent, one capable of taking the title if their star performers fire on the night.
Poland, fresh from taking gold at the European Indoor Championships last month, is another team likely to be in contention, along with Trinidad and Tobago and Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF