In the first ever IAAF World Relays held at Nassau’s Thomas Robinson stadium in the Bahamas on May 24 & 25, 2014, world-famous athletes from 40 countries showcased their sprinting skills with baton in their palms. The event was televised worldwide and the 17000-capacity Robinson stadium was packed to the brim on both days. In Bahamas and the rest of Caribbean islands, athletics is taken very seriously and there is no wonder, therefore, that some of world’s greatest athletes come from these regions. The 10-event magical spectacle had a total prize money of US $ 1.4 million and even the eighth placed teams benefitted from the prize purse.
Men’s 4x100m was won by the Jamaicans with Yohan Blake running the last 100 meters in an amazing 9.07 seconds. Nesta Carter gave Jamaica a good start and after that Nickel Ashmeade and Julian Forte maintained the tempo. Blake’s majestic finish in 37.77 seconds left Trinidad and Tobago at second place in 38.04 seconds while Great Britain were third in 38.19. Women’s 4x100m was won by USA in 41.88 seconds. Tianna Bartoletta and Alexandria Anderson ran in a neck-to-neck contention with the Jamaicans Carrie Russell and Kerron Stewart. American Jeneba Tarmoh ran the third leg and LaKeisha Lawson flew down the last 100m, followed closely by Jamaica’s Samantha Henry-Robinson. Jamaica finished second in 42.28 and Trinidad and Tobago were third in 42.66.
Men’s 4x400m relay became emotional with 17000 Bahamians rooting for their stars. Though, Bahamas’ La Toy Williams lagged at first exchange, Demetrius Pinder made up with a great run later. At halfway mark, Trinidad and Tobago led the field and US athletes were nowhere near. Bahamian Michael Mathieu got in front in the last 400 meters with Jarrin Solomon of Trinidad and Tobago trailing him. Though, American LaShawn Merrit was running in third place, he surged ahead of Solomon at backstretch and caught up with Mathieu. The two athletes ran shoulder to shoulder until the last 10 meters, when Meritt went past Mathieu to dash the hopes of roaring Bahamians. US clocked 2:57.25 second to Bahamas’ 2:57.59. Trinidad and Tobago finished third in 2:58.34. In women’s 4x400m, USA won with DeeDee Trotter leading the first leg. After first exchange, Sanya Richards-Ross was expected to consolidate but she lost the advantage to Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, from whom Anastasia Le-Roy took over in the third leg. But US athlete Natasha Hastings went in front, before Joanna Atkins taking over in the last leg. Atkins ran powerfully and US won in 3:21.73 minutes. Jamaica finished second in 3:23.26 and Nigerian women third in 3:23.41.
Men’s 4x800m final was won by Kenya in 7:08.40 followed by Poland in 7:08.69 while USA finished third with 7:09.06. In women’s 4x800m final, USA’s victory marked the inaugural event record in addition to US national record. But more importantly, the victory signaled USA’s arrival in middle-distance running. Chanelle Price began with more than 10m lead in first leg and Geena Lara continued thereafter. Though Australian Zoe Buckman and Kenyan Sylivia Chesebe could cut down Lara’s lead, Mexico’s Cristina Guevara raced strongly to come tantalizingly close to Lara. Ajee Wilson took the baton in third leg but she was challenged by Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei. Wilson didn’t allow the Kenyan to pass before the last exchange with Brenda Martinez, who went ahead of Kenyan Eunice Sum at homestretch and won the race for USA in 8:01.58 seconds. Kenyans were second with a national record of 8:04.28 and Russia third in 8:08.19.
Kenyan athletes created two new world records in 4x1500m for men and women. In men’s race, Kenyan quartet of Collins Cheboi, Silas Kiplagat, James Magut and Asbel Kiprop set aside challenges from Ethiopian and US athletes and lowered the world mark by 14 seconds. Though US led until the first exchange, Kenya’s Kiplagat ran hard in the second leg to pass USA’s David Torrence. Magut continued the Kenyan lead in the third leg, before world champion Kiprop took over in the last leg to finish in 14:22.22 minutes. US were second in a national record of 14:40.80 and Ethiopia third in 14:41.22. Kenyan women did even better than their men in 4×1500 and lowered the world mark by more than half-a-minute. The quartet of Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Obiri combined to clock 16:33.58 minutes. US finished second in 16:55.33, and Australia third in 17:08.65.
Jamaican men broke the third world record at Nassau on Saturday in 4x200m relay. The quartet of Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown and Yohan Blake combined to run in 1:18.63 minutes. The previous record of 1:18.68 was set in 1994 by legendary runners; Leroy Burrell, Mike Marsh, Carl Lewis and Floyd Heard. With a blazing start by Jamaicans, there was little doubt about their victory. St Kitts and Nevis were second in 1:20.51 and France was placed third in 1:20.66. US women captured the 4x200m in 1:29.45, marking their fourth victory in 5 events. Britain took the second spot in 1:29.61 and Jamaica finished third led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
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