By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to

Women’s 4x400m

The United States of America should start as favourites despite losing to Russia in this event at the 2013 IAAF World Championship. The Americans are in good form this year after winning the 4x400m World Indoor title in Poland and more recently at the Penn Relays with a world leading time of 3:25.62 for national teams.

The U.S team could be stronger, however, there are some fitness concerns to two of their best relay runners in Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix, both of whom missed the 4x400m finals in Moscow. The Americans with a likely relay pool coming from Francena McCorory, Joanna Atkins, Monica Hargrove, Natasha Hastings, Jessica Beard and DeeDee Trotter should feel confident of coming out on top. 

Russia, the 2013 World Champions, has been one of the United States’ biggest threats for many years in this event. Both countries have shared the last six World Championship titles between them. Russia’s best quarter-milers are Yuliya Gushchina (31), Tatyana Firova (31), Kseniya Ryzhova (27), Antonina Krivoshapka (26), Natalya Antyukh (32) and Anastasiya Kapachinskaya (34).

However, two thirds of this six-member group is over 30 years of age.  As they did last year before the World Championships, the Russians have raced sparingly this season. In fact, only Ryzhova from that gold medal winning team competed at the 2014 World Indoor Championship in March. The new Russian team placed fourth in the World Indoor 4x400m finals and might need a few of the veterans to improve their chances in Bahamas. Great Britain and Nigeria can also assemble formidable units to challenge for podium positions. 

On paper, Jamaica possesses one of the top teams in this event. Jamaica will be seeking to rebound from the setback at the 2013 IAAF World Championship where it failed to make the 4x400m finals after disqualification for a lane infringement in the first round. The Jamaican team and fans were crestfallen on that occasion. The aim of the Jamaicans this year is to reclaim their status as one of the top 4x400m relay teams in the world. The country has started well with a silver medal performance at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championship, however, a disappointing third place finish at the Penn Relays after leading on anchor made it clear that stronger representation is required in Bahamas.

Jamaica currently have a very strong set of quarter-milers to choose from such as Stephanie McPherson, Novelene Williams-Mills, Kaliese Spencer, Patricia Hall, Anastasia Le-Roy, Christine Day, Anneisha McLaughlin, Ristananna Tracey and Shericka Jackson. Last year aside, Jamaica has been one of the most consistent teams finishing on the podium at the previous six World Championships, winning one gold medal, four silver medals and a bronze medal dating back to 2001. All things being equal, Jamaica should advance to the 2015 World Championships in style as one of the top three teams. The world relay record for this event is 3:15.17 established by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR).

Track enthusiasts should note that for the 4x100m and 4x400m there will two finals, Final A and Final B and qualification for both are as follows: Final A, the first two teams in each heat and the next two fastest times will advance. The B Final will comprise the next eight fastest teams who did not make the A final. The B final is necessary for the following reason, only the top eight teams qualify automatically for the 2015 World Championship, however, if one or more teams in the A final are disqualified or do not finish the event, their qualifying spot is taken by the top finisher(s) in the B final. 

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