Despite dropping batons in men and women’s 4x200m events, American sprinters and distance medley runners dominated the IAAF/BTC World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas during May 2-3, 2015. Of the 10 events, the USA relay teams emerged victorious in 7, Jamaica won 2 events and women’s 4x200m was won by Nigeria, when American women indulged in baton-drop just before the final leg. But contrary to expectations, there was no inkling of Bolt-Gatlin Showdown as the Jamaican super athlete went literally unnoticed. As a matter of fact, Usain Bolt ran the anchor-leg in the 4×100 much later, when Justin Gatlin had already ensured US leadership by a blistering second-leg after taking the baton from Mike Rodgers. Gatlin doesn’t have Bolt’s media-backed theatrical superiority but he pulled away from Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole and created a whopping margin before passing the baton on to Tyson Gay. Just as the US anchorman, Ryan Bailey began the final 100m sprint, he had a big lead over Usain Bolt and the best Bolt could do was to cut the margin by a meter. But he couldn’t have taken Jamaica to the top podium finish. In the 4x200m, Jamaica took the top spot despite poor baton exchange and US were disqualified. Jamaica won the 4x200m relay without Usain Bolt making an appearance. It was learnt from Bolt’s manager that the big man had picked up another injury.
Regardless of the anti-climax after media-hyped Bolt-Gatlin showdown, the IAAF/BTC World Relays in the Bahamas proved extremely fruitful to the US athletes. US dominated the event with victories in prestigious men’s 4x100m, men & women’s 4x400m, men & women’s 4x800m, men and women’s distance medley relays. With 63 points in all, USA retained the Golden Baton they won last year on the same venue. For USA, it was an improvement over their last year’s performance, when they had collected 60 points. Yet again Jamaica had to remain content with the second place with victories in women’s 4×100 and men’s 4x200m. USA were unlucky in the 4x200m for men as well as women’s relays because of baton-drop and suffered disqualifications. USA’s misfortune proved lucky for Nigerian women, who took the top spot in 4x200m.
It was a coincident than both men and women from USA would drop the batons in 4×200 relays. The men’s event was akin to a comedy of errors for both Jamaica and the USA. While the Jamaicans managed to win despite a sloppy second exchange, the Americans were not so lucky. In the second exchange between Isiah Young and Curtis Mitchell, the baton went flying and USA were disqualified. The worse fate beckoned USA in women’s 4×200 in which they had successfully built a huge advantage after three legs run by Shalonda Solomon, Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeneba Tarmoh. But disaster struck in the final baton exchange, when Allyson Felix couldn’t get a firm grip because Tarmoh bumped into her and Felix fell to the ground. With that, the race slipped out of their hands.
American athletes had their victories sweetened by world records in both distance medleys and competition records in men & women’s 4x800m finals; men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m. Poland had three podium finishes; including second places in men & women’s 4x800m relays and they finished third after USA and Jamaica. Australia improved on their last year’s standing to take the fourth place. The 5th to 8th places were taken by Germany, France, Kenya and Great Britain in that order. All these 8 nations will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in these events.
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