Just 30 days from now, hundreds of athletes from around the world will be in Nassau for the IAAF/BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015.
Aside from the exciting clashes, enthusiastic crowds and innovative presentation, last year’s inaugural edition will be remembered for the trio of world records witnessed at the Thomas A Robinson stadium.
No doubt world records will once again be targeted in Nassau, so here we take a bit of a closer look at the world records in the 10 events that will be contested there, including the latest addition, the distance medley relay.
The world record in this event has been broken three times since 2008, Jamaica doing so each time. Usain Bolt, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater all played a part in each of those record-breaking performances. The eight fastest times in history have been set in the past seven years; six of them belong to Jamaica and two to the USA.
Women’s 4x100m – USA 40.82
Like catching a bus, you wait ages for one to arrive and then two turn up in quick succession. The previous world record of 41.37 had stood to East Germany since 1985, but after the USA smashed it with 40.82 at the 2012 Olympics, Jamaica posted the second-fastest time in history to win the world title with 41.29 in Moscow two years ago.
Men’s 4x200m – Jamaica 1:18.63
One of three world records to be broken in Nassau last year, a Jamaican quartet of Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown and Yohan Blake shaved 0.05 off the mark that had been set 20 years earlier by the USA’s Santa Monica Track Club. World silver medallist Weir produced the fastest split of the team with his 19.2 effort on the second leg.
Women’s 4x200m – USA 1:27.46
At the Penn Relays 15 years ago, a US quartet clocked 1:27.46. It might be a rarely run event, but a sign of the quality of the world record came at last year’s IAAF World Relays when the winning team was almost two seconds adrift of the mark.
Men’s 4x400m – USA 2:54.29
An all-star squad of Andrew Valmon, Quincy Watts, Harry ‘Butch’ Reynolds and Michael Johnson teamed up at the 1993 IAAF World Championships to smash the world record by almost one-and-a-half seconds. After a storming 44.43 first leg by Valmon, the splits got progressively quicker, culminating in a 42.91 lap from Johnson, the fastest in history.
Women’s 4x400m – Soviet Union 3:15.17
The women’s events at the 1988 Seoul Olympics climaxed in a record-breaking 4x400m in which both the Soviet Union and the USA ran faster than the previous world record. Anchored by individual 400m champion Olga Bryzgina – one of two women on the team to clock a sub-48-second split – the Soviet Union held off the USA’s challenge by a third of a second.
Men’s 4x800m – Kenya 7:02.43
At the 2006 Golden League meeting in Brussels, a Kenyan team of Joseph Mutua, William Yiampoy, Ismael Kombich and Wilfred Bungei took more than a second off the world record set by a powerful British quartet 24 years earlier. Just 0.39 behind in second, the USA also ran faster than the previous mark.
Women’s 4x800m – Soviet Union 7:50.17
It may not be contested often, but this is one of the toughest world records on the books. Averaging 1:57.54 per split, the Soviet team of Nadezhda Olizarenko, Lyubov Gurina, Lyudmila Borisova and Irina Podyalovskaya set this mark in 1984. Incredibly, a Soviet ‘B’ team finished second in 7:51.62, an average of 1:57.90 for each leg.
Men’s distance medley – Kenya 9:15.56
A bit like the men’s 4x800m, when Kenya broke this world record, a second-placed US team also ran faster than the previous mark. In a close race at the 2006 Penn Relays, Elkanah Angwenyi ran the opening 1200m leg before Thomas Musembi ran 400m, handing over to 800m-leg runner Alfred Kirwa Yego. On the final 1600m leg, Alex Kipchirchir overtook Bernard Lagat to secure the victory and the world record.
Women’s distance medley – USA 10:48.38
Set by a team from Villanova University at the 1988 Penn Relays, this 27-year-old record could be the most vulnerable of all the events contested in Nassau. After running a 4:29.9 anchor on the 1600m leg, Vicki Huber went on to make the Olympic 3000m final later that year.