As is the case in the 4x200m which opens the IAAF World Relays on Saturday, the spotlight on the women's 4x100m will fall on double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson whose mission it is this weekend to help Jamaica retain the title they wrestled from the USA two years ago.
After her rare double Olympic triumph in Rio last summer, the first in 28 years, Thompson's star has risen dramatically. After opening her campaign with a sizzling if wind-assisted 10.75 (2.2m/s) run in Kingston last weekend, she has shown that she's on track to elevate that star even higher this season.
Thompson also raced to silver in the 4x100m in Rio last summer, teaming with Christania Williams (in the final) and Sashalee Forbes and Simone Facey (in the heats). All three will be joining her in Nassau along with Natasha Morrison, a 4x100m world champion from 2015. While Williams and Forbes have been gradually rising through the Jamaican ranks in recent years, Facey, who contributed to Jamaica's 4x100m world title in 2009, brings the most experience.
The key name on the USA squad is that of Tianna Bartoletta, the world and Olympic champion in the long jump who has also captured back-to-back Olympic titles in the 4x100m. Bartoletta led off both USA teams in previous editions of the IAAF World Relays, winning in 2014 and finishing second a year later. She opened her season with a solid 11.08 run in Azusa last week.
This year she'll team with English Gardner, a 100m Olympic finalist last year and member of the victorious Rio 4x100m squad. She was also on the 4x100m roster that captured silver at the 2015 World Championships, where she teamed with Jenna Prandini, who is also in Nassau. Morolake Akinosun, who ran in the rounds in Rio, is also on the squad.
Others to watch in the podium chase include Trinidad and Tobago, third at both the 2014 edition and at the 2015 World Championships, who bring a mix of youth and experience to the start. Semoy Hackett, Reyare Thomas, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and rising star Khalifa St Fort, all members of the Beijing bronze-winning squad, will be in Nassau.
Elsewhere, Dafne Schippers, the world champion and Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, will bring attention to the Dutch team, the reigning European champions. Schippers arrives as the world leader in the both the 100m (10.95) and 200m (22.29).
The top eight teams will earn automatic entry into this summer’s IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF