By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.com
Despite its infrequent occurrence, the men’s 4x200m event is still a favourite among track fans. It should generate some interest among craving half lap enthusiasts.
Jamaica is currently enjoying an incredible run in world sprinting. Since 2008, the country has not lost a men’s 200m final at any major championships (World & Olympic). The present sprinters arguably rank amongst the greatest in the country’s history. Therefore, it should not be an unreasonable desire if some track fans believe Jamaica should have the 4x100m and 4x200m records at the same time. The country boasts the only two men (Usain Bolt & Yohan Blake) to have run below 19.50 seconds on more than one occasion. Moreover, with 200m Olympic bronze and World Championship silver medallist Warren Weir who has a personal best (PB) 19.79, Nickel Asmeade with a PB 19.85, Jason Young with a PB of 19.86, Jason Livermore with a 20.13 PB and Rasheed Dwyer with a PB of 20.15, Jamaica’s future in this event for the next five years seems secure.
However, for the World Relays, due to fitness concerns, Jamaica will be without Usain Bolt and Jason Young. The loss of both athletes should not be detrimental to Jamaica’s chances as the squad has depth and is more than capable of winning gold.
With the combined speed of the Jamaicans, and if the top sprinters are fit and motivated the 4x200m world record should not be out of reach. Warren Weir has already expressed his desire to be a part of a Jamaican world record-breaking team in the 4x200m. He will be doing his best to convince his teammates of the importance of this mission. The Santa Monica Track Club from the United States of America holds the record of 1:18.68 seconds established in 1994. If Jamaica can field its strongest team, maybe the only drawback for them getting the record would be the lack of serious competition throughout the race. Sometimes racing against the clock can be more challenging than competing against fierce rivals. However, challenging the record would require each runner to average at least 19.67 seconds per leg.
I hope the glaring omission of Yohan Blake’s name from the 4x200m squad entry list was an oversight. If Blake is not in Jamaica’s relay pool, this event then becomes a lot more interesting. Jamaica’s relay pool on the IAAF entry list includes Jason Livermore, Jermaine Brown, Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade, Rasheed Dwyer and newcomer Julian Forte. Julian Forte has shown that he is a great relay runner based on his splendid performances for the University of Technology (UTECH) over the past two years at the Penn Relays.
One country that could give the Jamaicans the necessary competition they need is the United States of America. The veteran Wallace Spearman Jnr and 2013 World Championship bronze medallist Curtis Mitchell will lead the U.S. squad. The other squad members are Isiah Young, Ameer Webb, Maurice Mitchell and the man who mostly race in his shades, Walter Dix. The American sprinters are a proud yet competitive bunch and should feel confident of doing well in this event.
Great Britain despite having capable sprinters has not entered a squad for this 4x200m event, which is most unfortunate. It is a big blow for the fans of Delano Williams the 2012 World Junior champion who lives and trains in Jamaica with the Racers Track Club. Williams who was born in Turks and Caicos Islands will no doubt feel uneasy when he sees the tiny island of his birth participating in the 4x200m event while he sits there on his couch. What is most interesting is that the Great Britain 4x100m squad in Bahamas has three members who have done creditable 200m times this year. On the same day April 26, 2014, James Ellington ran 20.44; Daniel Talbot 20.48 and World Indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty ran 20.73 in Florida.
France, Germany, Bahamas, Virgin Islands and Japan will no doubt be vying for a podium position. Two teams that could entertain the fans with their ‘raw speed’ in this 4x200m event are Kenya and Papua New Guinea. If both countries complete the race, their times could be national records.
Finally, this is a rarely contested event, Jamaica and Team U.S.A. will not get many opportunities this season to break the 4x200m record, so this could be one of the highlights of the World Relays.