World Relays — Team USA Goes 4 For 5

“The chemistry we have been producing for the last three weeks is magical,” declared Noah Lyles after the USA men took the 4×1 in 37.40, just 0.02 off the ’23 World Champs gold medal time. (KEVIN MORRIS)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS, May 04–05 — The sixth World Relays proved to be a resounding success for World Athletics, with a sellout crowd of 15,000 inside Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Changes from the previous edition in ‘21 were evident. Gone were the 4×2 and shuttle hurdles as well as the experimental 2x2x4. Most importantly, the meet was directly tied to Olympic qualifying, with the 8 finalists in each event being guaranteed an Olympic berth. The finals on Sunday determined Olympic lane draws as well as World Relays medals and prize money ($40K for gold, $20K silver, $10K bronze, etc.).

In an additional repechage, or second-chance, round, the first two teams in each heat also gained Olympic berths. However, this round did not offer any chance for the teams to sneak into the Nassau finals. The final two Olympic berths in each event will come from the qualifying lists.

For Team USA, this year’s event marked a triumph in 4 of 5 events, with one disaster to keep the squad humble.


4 x 100: That the U.S. would be the team to beat was abundantly clear from their first heat lineup, all A-listers. Courtney Lindsey led off, Kenny Bednarek ran the backstretch well, then Kyree King covered the turn before handing off to Noah Lyles, who finished solidly. The result, a 37.49 world leader. Italy, with Olympic dash champ Marcell Jacobs on second leg, ran 38.14.

Heat 2 went to the French in 38.32; heat 3 to Canada (38.11); heat 4 to Japan (38.10).

U.S. coaches kept the same personnel and order for the final, and the consistency paid off. Lindsey burned his opener from lane 7, making up the stagger on Italy before a smooth pass to Bednarek. The 200 specialist stretched the lead out further on the backstretch and delivered a solid handoff to King. The Oregon alum built a bigger lead on the turn, then gave a quick handoff to Lyles.

The world champion never looked back, speeding the stretch and helping to bring the team to a 37.40 gold performance, just 0.02 off the Championship Record. Canada finished well for silver in 37.89, with France earning bronze in 38.44.

Said Lyles, “I can’t wait for the moment when we cross the finish 1st [in Paris]. I have always believed that the World Record is not so much about the speed as the handoffs. The chemistry we have been producing for the last three weeks is magical. I have never done handoffs so well, seeing the times replicated each time. Today was a perfect example… I wish we were in a situation where they take us [to Paris]. We have that chemistry. We live 15 minutes from each other.”

There’s no guarantee Lyles will get his wish. Olympic rules for nations’ 5-member relay pools mandate inclusion of the country’s 3 entrants in the 100 (first 3 at the Trials for the U.S.) plus two other discretionary picks.

4 x 400: In heat 1, U.S. hopes came crashing down, all due to a misunderstanding of the rules. Jacory Patterson led off in 45.55. Christopher Bailey got the baton in 1st, then almost jogged the first turn. At the 200 mark, when the officials set up the order for the receiving runners, Bailey was only in 4th. Then he exploded into the lead on the second turn. When he came off the turn with a clear lead, Champion Allison repositioned himself from the fourth position in the receiving line to the inside lane — not an unusual move in a collegiate meet, but against international rules. Bailey finished off his 44.66, Allison ran a 44.98, then Bryce Deadmon’s 45.23 gave the U.S. a 3:00.42–3:00.98 win over Japan. All for nought, as the Americans were disqualified.

Belgium took the second heat in 3:00.09. Italy took the third in 3:01.68, but Botswana in heat 4 ran fastest at 2:59.73. Letsile Tebogo blistered his second leg in 43.49, and Bayapo Ndori anchored with a 43.95.

The loss of the United States likely opened up a spot on the podium for the final. Italy got out best, Luca Sito leading off in 45.35, ahead of Botswana’s Collen Kebinatshipi in 45.99. The second leg belonged to Tebogo. Though not as fast as the day before, his 43.72 gave the African nation a solid lead, with Britain 0.78 back and Italy 3rd. Leungo Scotch (45.27) kept Botswana comfortably ahead. Italy moved to 2nd at the handoff and Belgium moved into the medal picture on the strength of the 44.90 by World Indoor champ Alexander Doom.

Anchor Bayapo Ndori, who leads the world list for 400 at 44.1(A), cruised a 44.13 closer to seal the first African 4×4 victory ever at the World Relays. The winning 2:59.11 is a world leader. South Africa came home fast thanks to a 44.42 anchor from Lythe Pillay to win silver in 3:00.75. Jonathan Sacoor ran 45.09 to keep Belgium barely ahead of Japan for the bronze, 3:01.16–3:01.20.



1. United States 37.40 (WL) (5 A) (Lindsey10.32, Bednarek 8.91, King 9.31, Lyles 8.95);

2. Canada 37.89 (Rodney 10.45, De Grasse 9.12, Brown 9.36, Blake 8.96); 3. France 38.44 (Zeze, Erius, Mateo, Priam);

4. Japan 38.45; 5. Great Britain 38.45; 6. China 38.75; 7. Jamaica 38.88; … dq[zone]—Italy


I–1. Germany 38.57; 2. Liberia 38.65 NR; 3. Switzerland 38.65; 4. Brazil 38.72; 5. Poland 38.86; 6. Czechia 39.20; 7. Cuba 39.39;… dnf—Denmark.

II–1. Ghana 38.29; 2. Nigeria 38.57; 3. Dominican Republic 39.16; 4. South Korea 39.17; 5. Thailand 39.41; 6. Saudi Arabia 39.58; 7. Türkiye 39.76;… dq—Netherlands.

III–1. South Africa 38.08; 2. Australia 38.46; 3. Colombia 39.04; 4. Kenya 39.15; 5. Bahamas 39.21; 6. Spain 39.51;… dnf—Trinidad, Belgium.


I–1. United States 37.49 (WL) (x, 9 A).

MEN’S 4 x 400


1. Botswana 2:59.11 (WL) (Kebinatshipi 45.99, Tebogo 43.72, Scotch 45.27, Ndori 44.13);

2. South Africa 3:00.75 (Isaacs 46.19, Nene 44.63, Nortje 45.51, Pillay 44.42); 3. Belgium 3:01.16 (D. Borlée 46.66, Vanderbemden 44.51, Doom 44.90, Sacoor 45.09);

4. Japan 3:01.20 (Kawabata 44.97); 5. Italy 3:01.60 (Re 45.63); 6. Great Britain 3:02.62 (Davey 45.38); 7. Germany 3:05.55; 8. Nigeria 3:16.68.


I–1. United States 2:59.95 (Patterson 45.54, Allison 44.79, Bailey 44.26, Deadmon 45.36);

2. India 3:03.23; 3. Mexico 3:03.47; 4. Kenya 3:04.83; 5. Bahamas 3:08.29;… dnf—Qatar.

II–1. Spain 3:02.39; 2. Poland 3:02.91; 3. Czechia 3:03.00; 4. Zambia 3:03.18; 5. Jamaica 3:05.09; 6. Barbados 3:06.54; 7. Senegal 3:09.00; 8. Guyana 3:10.01.

III–1. Brazil 3:01.86; 2. Trinidad 3:02.39; 3. France 3:02.44; 4. Netherlands 3:03.24; 5. Canada 3:03.29; 6. Australia 3:04.68; 7. Türkiye 3:06.35; 8. Venezuela 3:10.34.


I–dq: United States (Patterson 45.55, Bailey 46.66, Allison [lined up in wrong position] 44.98, Deadmon 45.23) (3:00.22).


4 x 100: The team of Tamari Davis, Gabby Thomas, Celera Barnes and Melissa Jefferson ran strongly in heat 1, clocking 42.21. The next-best performance came from the Brits with a 42.33 in heat 4.

The next day’s final saw the U.S. squad start in lane 4, with Netherlands on the inside and Poland on the outside. The running order stayed the same as in the heats. Davis got out best, nearly making up the stagger on Poland before she and Thomas struggled with their exchange. With the baton finally secure, Thomas burned the backstretch and delivered it safely to Barnes, while Poland dropped theirs.

Barnes, who helped build an imposing lead on the turn with her 10.31, handed off smoothly to Jefferson, who came home in a meet record and world-leading 41.85, nearly a full second ahead of France’s 42.75. Britain came up for bronze in 42.80.

4 x 400: The fastest time in the heats belonged to Ireland in heat 2, a 3:24.38 that was sparked by Rhasidat Adeleke’s 49.48 second leg — in her second sub-50 of the day. In heat 4, the United States ran nearly as fast. Quanera Hayes (51.28), Bailey Lear (51.49) and Na’Asha Robinson (51.21) brought the stick to Alexis Holmes, who closed in 50.78 for a 3:24.76. Surprisingly, perennial power Netherlands did not field a team.

For the final, Hayes again led off, her 51.16 bringing her around ahead of Norway, Britain and Canada. As soon as Gabby Thomas got the baton, it was over. Just 20 minutes after her 4×1 leg, the world 200 runner-up surged to a 10m-plus lead on the backstretch, and her 49.58 made it more than 20m by the time of the handoff.

Bailey Lear only extended the lead further with her 51.33, while Canada, Britain and Poland battled for the remaining medals far behind. Anchor Alexis Holmes went with the flow, her 49.63 locking up a world-leading 3:21.70 for a fourth-straight gold. Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek ran even faster, her 49.46 bringing her squad from 4th to silver in 3:24.71. Canada would finish ahead of Britain for bronze, 3:25.17–3:25.84.

Thomas, with her 2-gold medal performance, said, “At the end of the day I knew the girls would have it regardless because they have a great 4x400m relay squad. It’s a testament to how we came to World Relays, we came prepared with the mentality to get the job done and we were committed to that.”



1. United States 41.85 (WL) (Tamari Davis 11.33, Gabby Thomas 10.23, Celera Barnes 10.31, Melissa Jefferson 9.98);

2. France 42.75 (Galet, Joseph, Parisot, Leconte); 3. Great Britain 42.80 (Bell, Hunt, Williams, Sibbons);

4. Germany 42.93); 5. Australia 43.02; 6. Netherlands 43.07; 7. Canada 43.09; … dnf—Poland.


I–1. Italy 42.60; 2. Côte d’Ivoire 42.63; 3. Spain 42.88; 4. Belgium 43.17; 5. Ecuador 43.47 NR; 6. Japan 43.63;… dnf—Austria.

II–1. Jamaica 42.74; 2. Trinidad 43.54; 3. Hungary 44.04; 4. Cuba 44.05; 5. Liberia 44.31; 6. Chile 44.40; 7. Denmark 44.88.

III–1. Nigeria 42.71; 2. Switzerland 42.75; 3. China 43.13; 4. Bahamas 43.32; 5. Brazil 43.51; 6. Colombia 43.92; 7. Estonia 44.81;… dns—Dominican Republic.

WOMEN’S 4 x 400


1. United States 3:21.70 (WL) (Hayes 51.16, Thomas 49.58, Lear 51.33, Holmes 49.63);

2. Poland 3:24.71 (Popowicz-Drapala 52.17, Baumgart-Witan 51.56, Święty-Ersetic 51.52, Kaczmarek 49.46); . Canada 3:25.17 (Sherar 51.78, Stiverne 51.59, Marsh 51.65, Constantine 50.15);

4. Great Britain 3:25.84 (Kelly 50.63); 5. Norway 3:26.88 NR (Jæger 50.77); 6. Italy 3:27.51 (Trevisan 51.47); 7. Ireland 3:30.95; 8. France 3:30.96.


I–1. Jamaica 3:28.54; 2. India 3:29.35; 3. Brazil 3:31.60; 4. Germany 3:32.12; 5. Colombia 3:36.56;… dns—Dominican Republic.

II–1. Netherlands 3:27.45; 2. Switzerland 3:28.30; 3. Cuba 3:29.36; 4. Portugal 3:35.25; 5. Botswana 3:38.33; 6. Kenya 3:43.22.

III–1. Belgium 3:26.79; 2. Spain 3:27.30 NR; 3. Czechia 3:27.76; 4. Australia 3:28.05; 5. Ukraine 3:33.43; 6. Zambia 3:34.55.


II–1. Ireland 3:24.38 NR (WL) (Adeleke 49.48 [2]).

Kendall Ellis sailed across the line first for a meet record in the mixed 4×4. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)


In the Saturday heats, the Netherlands led off the first race with a 3:12.16 meet record that included strong legs from Lieke Klaver (49.57) and Femke Bol (49.54).

That record lasted only a few minutes, as in the next heat, the United States teed up with Matthew Boling, Lynna Irby-Jackson, Ryan Willie and Kendall Ellis. Boling opened with a 45.59. Irby-Jackson blazed 50.03 to stretch the lead over Nigeria. Willie covered his leg in 45.66, falling behind the 44.78 by Nigeria’s Chidi Okezie. Ellis reeled in the Nigerians, running 50.24 to close out a 3:11.52, the No. 7 U.S. time ever.

With a 3:12.50 in heat 3, Ireland also looked like a threat; Adeleke ran her leg in 49.64. Poland took the fourth heat, with Natalia Kaczmarek anchoring in 49.84.

In Sunday’s final, Boling churned out a 45.11 to hand off in the lead, the Netherlands 1.59 back. Irby-Jackson held onto the lead with her 50.10, though she lost ground on the final stretch to the 48.45 that Ireland’s Adeleke ran to bring her team into 2nd.

On the third leg, Willington Wright brought the stick around in 45.18, handing a 10-meter margin to Kendall Ellis. Setting out just 1.43 behind Ellis was Femke Bol in 4th. The indoor WR-holder passed Nigeria’s Esther Elo Joseph on the backstretch but had difficulty getting around Ireland’s Sharlene Mawdsley — their fight lasted through the final curve, with both gaining on Ellis. To most eyes, it looked as if Bol would sweep past to victory coming off the final turn. Instead, it was Ellis who shocked with her final stretch, making sure she had more than enough to not just hold off her challengers, but to leave them safely behind.

The U.S. claimed the win in a meet record 3:10.73 on the strength of Ellis’s 50.34; the time is No. 6 in U.S. history. The Netherlands won silver in 3:11.45 (Bol 49.63), and Ireland the bronze in a national record 3:11.53 (Mawdsley 50.12).



1. United States 3:10.73 (6 A) (Boling 45.11, Irby-Jackson 50.10, Wright 45.18, Ellis 50.34);

2. Netherlands 3:11.45 (Boers 46.70, Klaver 49.80, Ikkink 45.32, Bol 49.63);

3. Ireland 3:11.53 NR (#7 nation) (Greene 46.92, Adeleke 48.45, Barr 46.04, Mawdsley 50.12);

4. Nigeria 3:12.87 NR 5. Dominican Republic 3:16.68

(Paulino 49.98); 6. France 3:17.38; … dq—Belgium;… dns—Poland.


I–1. Bahamas 3:12.81 NR (Gardiner 45.08, Adderley 53.12, Russell 45.07, Miller-Uibo 49.54); 2. Jamaica 3:14.49; 3. South Africa 3:15.96; 4. Japan 3:16.02; 5. Guyana 3:17.65; 6. Bahrain 3:18.21; 7. Hungary 3:18.78;… dns—Brazil.

II–1. Germany 3:13.85; 2. Switzerland 3:14.12 NR; 3. Canada 3:14.66 NR; 4. Italy 3:16.47; 5. Kenya 3:18.76;… dns—Czechia, India.

III–1. Great Britain 3:12.99; 2. Ukraine 3:14.49; 3. Spain 3:15.11; 4. Botswana 3:16.39; 5. Portugal 3:17.03; 6. Mexico 3:19.81; 7. Colombia 3:21.29.


I–1. Netherlands 3:12.16 (Bol 49.54); 2. Dominican Republic 3:14.39 (Paulino 48.93).

II–1. United States 3:11.52 (7A) (Boling 45.59, Irby-Jackson 50.03, Willie 45.66, Ellis 50.24).


Sunday’s repechage races produced several highlights. For U.S. fans, the most notable was that the men’s 4×4 team made the most of its second chance, sealing an Olympic bid in 2:59.95 with the same personnel as the day before, though Allison and Bailey switched spots. The splits: Patterson 45.54, Allison 44.79, Bailey 44.26, and Deadmon 45.36.

In other events, Bahamas recovered from their day 1 disaster with a national record 3:12.81 in the mixed relay, Shaunae Miller-Uibo finishing in 49.54 after a Steven Gardiner lead-off in 45.08. The women’s 4×1 saw Italy lead the standings at 42.60. On the men’s side it was South Africa at 38.08, a time that would have bronze in the final later in the day. And in the women’s 4×4, Belgium produced a 3:26.79 to lead the way ◻︎.

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