Five Things We Learned on Day 2 of the IAAF World Relays
Jesse Squire | On 25, May 2014
Five quick thoughts on the final day of the meet…
The meet was a success.
The inaugural IAAF World Relays was a sellout on both of its days and the stadium was buzzing with energy. The interest among international fans was keen. Virtually every single athlete seemed to love it. The meet is coming back to Nassau next year and it might become an even bigger deal. No doubt about it, this was the best innovation by the IAAF in three decades. I am seriously considering making a trip to the Bahamas for this meet next year.
The meet was good and would be good anywhere, but I think the Bahamas as a site was genius. I recall a Bahamian junkanoo band playing in the stands at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, and stadium announcer Garry Hill filled us in: “There are no Bahamians competing in today’s meet for them to support. We have been told that they are here supporting everyone.” The home team ran well but the fans liked all of it.
The team standings for the “Golden Baton” predictably went to the USA, and the next four nations were Jamaica, Kenya, Great Britain and Australia. True story: Poland (14 points) pounded Russia (6 points). I bet Władysław Kozakiewicz is aware of this.
US men’s sprint relay teams are hopeless.
Right on cue in the first event of the day, the US men’s 4×100 relay screwed it up. In their qualifying heat, third leg Mookie Salaam left too early, the exchange was made out of the zone, and that was that. They didn’t even get to run in the B final. Maybe USATF leadership will take responsibility for these repeated failures and…oh, wait, it’s USATF. Never mind.
USA mens sprint relays should use pool noodles for batons next time.
— Mac Fleet (@macfleet1) May 26, 2014
USA distance is as good as ever.
In four distance races, the USA finished first, second, second and third. Think about how moribund the distance program was in this country a decade ago and how far from possible that seemed. It wasn’t that long ago that the women’s 800 was on the short list of “weakest USA event” yet today the US women’s 4×800 team powered away from Kenya and everyone else. Speaking of which…
If you want something done right, have a woman do it.
The US women ran in all five relays and came away with four wins and a second. Their only loss was to a world record, by Kenya in the 4×1500, and they too broke the old world record (despite the Aussies setting a nasty pick at the first exchange). It was a dominating performance.
Nothing is more exciting than the 4×400.
The crowd went wild for the men’s 4×400. No surprise there, as the home team is the reigning Olympic champions in the event. The race delivered on excitement, as the Bahamians led going into the final turn before the USA’s LaShawn Merritt powered away for a tight win.
The 4×400 is the race that made me fall in love with track and field. Philly fans sit through two straight hours of it on every Saturday morning of the Penn Relays and they love it too. It should always be the final race of a meet. The races that followed this one, the women’s 4×200 and men’s 4×100, had a more difficult task than following Elvis.