The 4th IAAF World Relays are being held in Yokohama, Japan May 11-12, 2019. Stuart Weir has been on the road two weeks to cover Doha DL and Yokohama for us. This is his intro on the World Relays.
The fourth IAAF World Relays are up and running. The event has moved from the spectacular natural beauty of the Bahamas to the concrete jungle of Yokohama. For the host city is Japan’s second largest city with a population of 3.7 million but he is only a 20 minute train journey from Tokyo central station. The venue, the national stadium, is impressive – having hosted the 2002 FIFA Soccer World Cup and will, later this year have the rugby union world cup final. The only problem for the World Relays is that 15,000 spectators or lost in a stadium with a capacity of 72,000.
Tonight’s program consisted of one straight final, one heat and final and five heats leading into finals tomorrow. The crowd was always noisy but erupted when Japan was doing well. It was an evening of high quality and not a little drama and a few shocks as well. USA, Jamaica, Australia and Great Britain were on the track but so were Lithuania, Zimbabwe, Thailand. Papua New Guinea, Ecuador and Kazakhstan.
The evening started and finished with the Shuttle Hurdles Relay. While this event has existed in the USA for some years, it is new to the rest of the world. Two men and two women comprise a team and they run in opposite directions. Seven teams ran in the heats with USA, Australia, Jamaica and Japan reaching the final. There were four in the final until Jamaica withdrew due to an injury, leaving three. When Australia false started there were two with USA taking the gold medal.
The athletes loved the event. Christina Clemons said she “was very excited to win and set a new World record” but added that she had been nervous as in a normal hurdles race a mistake only affected her but here she would let the team down. Freddie Crittenden said: “: It is great that IAAF introduced this event. In the World Relays”. There was an unattributed quote: “Tell Seb we want this in the World Championships and Olympics”
The other final was the 2X2X400 mixed relay, which saw a man and a woman each running a lap twice but in alternate turns. USA with Ce’Aira Brown and Donovan Brazier won from Australia’s Catriona Bisset and Joshua Ralph. Donovan Braizier commented: “Now I love this event. Technically this is world record. This is a bit different with 4x800m. Our strategies were like others, girl, guy, girl, guy. Kenya was the only team ran guy, girl”.
Day two consists of seven finals and two B finals.