This is Stuart Weir’s piece on the sprint relays at Monaco. Stuart Weir wrote seven pieces on the Monaco DL meeting for us this past weekend.
The first event on the programme at the Herculis was a women’s sprint relay. It was what concert promoters call the warm-up act. According to the programme there were two USA teams USA A and USA B. By the time of the race it had become more diplomatic with USA Blue (wearing blue) and USA Red (wearing blue).
USA A, I mean USA Red, won the race in 42.34 with a team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Aaliyah Brown. USA Blue with Destiny Carter, Barbara Pierre, Demetra Bryant and Kyra Jefferson came second in 43.07 – with Italy third, France fourth and China fifth. There was some concern for English Gardner who completed her leg successfully but then fell.
Allyson Felix, of course, is a serial relay medallist whether 4 by 400 or 4 by 100. Even though she is not one of the four fastest in the US, she is normally selected for the 4 by 100 squad for her expertise of running a bend and her relay experience. I asked her what she liked about relays. She told me: “Relay running is fun. I love running at this stadium. We had had relay camp so it has been good to get some Chemistry with the women”. Showing a characteristic concern for teammate, English, she added: “I am always happy to win but disappointed when someone does not end the race well”.
As the 400 is the only individual event Allyson is running, I wondered if that meant she would put more energy into the relay. She gave me a revealing answer: “It is good for me to focus [on relays] but it will be tough for me to watch the 200″.
Finally, as I had Allyson’s attention, I thought I would ask her about the famous fast Monaco track – how is one track faster than another? She explained: “When people say Monaco is a fast track I think they just mean the surface has produced fast times in the past. It is a runners’ track we like it a little harder”.
The world and Olympic long-jump champion, Tianna Bartoletta, also ran in the relay – well I suppose a long-jumper needs something to do in the afternoon! She told me why she runs relays: “I enjoy the camaraderie because Track and Field is an individual sport and a lot of times you are focused on yourself. So sometimes it is good to line up and know it is not all about you and does not depend just on you whether you win or lose”.
She expressed the nervousness of the athletes as they via for places on the track in London: “We have another relay camp in London afterwards and only after that will we know who will run. But of course I would be happy if it stays like today so that I will be able to run. Today helps me in my relay preparation”.
Ever the perfectionist she admitted the winning was not enough! She said: “I need to work on some technical issues with my coach Rana Reider and be able to attack the highest position in London”.
She also eulogized about the presence of Allyson Felix in the relay squad: “Running with Allyson is nice and so comfortable at this point. I feel honored to run with someone like her. I am in good company and I enjoy it”.
Whoever is in the team, expect the US to be in the mix.
In the second race on the programme – the men’s 4 by 100 relay, China finished first in 38.19 from USA Red (38.30) and US Blue (38.41).