2019 Doha Diary: Two amazing sprint relays...


M-4x100Exchange1e-Doha19.JPGMen's 4x100m exchange, final exchange, photo by PhotoRun.net

W-4x100Exchange1b-Doha19.JPGW4x100m exchange, final exchange, photo by PhotoRun.net

The 4x100m relays are fascinating to watch. Combining speedy sprinters with tragedy defying passing, at fast as possible, and teams that train with precision. This champs was no different except that the US took medals, like GBR, in both.

Oh, in the post event press conference, a statement by a Japanese relay runner was purposely misinterpreted. It was noted "We look forward to see you next year in Tokyo." We were told, he said, " We can not wait to see you in Tokyo next year. The outcome will be much different."

Sprint relays

The Usain bolt era is well and truly over; the Jamaican men's sprint relay team did not reach the final. Defending champions, Great Britain ran faster than they had done in London 2017, but lost to America. That said, the U.S. team had to survive two protests - that one baton change had been outside the zone in their semi-final - to be running in the final. One photograph suggested that one of the U.S. runners was indeed beyond the line but had his foot in the air at the crucial moment. Remarkably this was the first American victory in the event since 2007. One fascinating but the misleading statistic is that the average age of the American team was 29 - Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles are 23, Michael Rodgers 34 and Justin Gatlin 37!

The result was

1 USA 37.10

2 GB 37.36

3 Japan 37.43

As seems to be normal at these world championships, the winning time was a world lead and a national record while Britain achieved a national and European record with Japan plus Brazil in fourth place also setting a new national record.

Given that the U.S. men's team included Christian Coleman (winner of the individual 100m), Noah Lyles (winner of the individual 200m) and Justin Gatlin (second in the individual 100m), whereas the British team's best performance had been Adam Gemili's fourth in the 200m, how did the British team come within 0.26 seconds of USA? The answer is strategy and hard work. The USA chooses its relay runners based on performances in the trials, GB has a funded relay squad. GB has currently 25 athletes funded for the 4 by 100 and 4 by 400 relays. There are regular relay practice camps. It is a huge investment but it pays off. Britain took four relay medals in the 2017 World Championship and medals in both sprint relays in Doha and two medals at the last Olympics.

The result of the women's sprint relay was:

1 Jamaica 41.44

2 GB 41.85

3 USA 42.10

Compared to London 2017 it was the same three medallists, but GB stayed in silver with USA and Jamaica swopping places. And talking of swops it was unusual to see Shelly-Ann on second leg for Jamaica, presumably to get an inexperienced team into a good position early. With Elaine Thompson, unavailable, Jamaica included 400m specialist, Shericka Jackson, but they still won. Remarkably 41.44 was the eighth fastest performance in history.

GB had to deal with a late injury to Imani Lansiquot, who was to replace Asha Philip but survived the change of personnel and a switch to running order to take silver. USA were well beaten by GB and in fact only finished 0.08 ahead of Switzerland. Again the GB girls - with the exception of the amazing Dina Asher-Smith - are individually not as fast as the Americans. However with coach Stephen Maguire inspired preparation, they showed how the whole can be better than the sum of the parts.

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