Over the past few years, the men’s 4x100 meter relay has always been the United State’s to win or lose. Other teams depended on USA making a mistake to have any chance of challenging for the gold.
Famously, the USA relay team of 2004 did indeed make a blunder, paving the way for a Great British victory.
In 2008, USA will be out to atone for their shock loss of four years ago. However, this time they will not go in as hot favourites. Let’s take a look at the 4x100 meter USA team for Beijing and which teams will be challenging them for gold.
The two main contenders (Possible starters in brackets)
USA (Tyson Gay, Walter Dix, Darvis Patton, Travis Padgett) – The USA again enters the Olympic Games with a very strong relay team on paper, however their fortunes in Beijing will depend on how the team works together and is able to conduct their changeovers.
Unfortunately, Gay’s injury and the decision of Dix to remain training in the US has meant that the nation’s four fastest runners have been unable to compete together in any warm up meets before the Olympics begin. Despite this, the USA should comfortably be capable of earning at least a silver medal in Beijing, however it wouldn’t be a shock to see them lose out on the gold again this year.
Jamaica (Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter) – The reason that the USA are not hot favourites for the gold medal this time around is the emergence of these Jamaican sprinters.
With the fastest two men in history on their squad, along with a former world silver medallist in Michael Frater and the up and coming star Nesta Carter, Jamaica may even enter the final of the men’s 4x100 meter relay in Beijing as favourites for the gold medal.
If they can improve their baton exchanges from last year’s performance at the World Championships, expect to see Jamaica running alongside the USA down the final straight and perhaps taking the gold.
Could pull off an upset
Trinidad and Tobago (Richard Thompson, Darrel Brown, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong) – With three sub-10 second runners who all seem to be in top form leading up to the Olympics, Trinidad and Tobago have assembled their fastest ever team. This was made clear last week when the squad came home with a national record in an Olympic warm up.
If the teams from the US and Jamaica don’t have a clean run throughout the final, Trinidad and Tobago are capable of taking advantage and creating a major upset. If not, look for them to fight it out for the bronze medal.
Great Britain (Simeon Williamson, Craig Pickering, Tyrone Edgar, Marlon Devonish) – After showing that the US was indeed beatable four years ago in Athens, the team from Great Britain will be out to create another major boil-over this year.
On paper, the Great British squad, while remaining competitive, is still inferior to those listed above. However, as we saw in Athens, it would be foolish to discount this team. They are again capable of capitalising on any mistakes by the main favourites.
Nigeria (Olusoji Fasuba, Obinna Metu, Adetoyi Durotoye, Uchenna Emedolu) – Nigeria’s depth of good sprinters always means they present a competent relay team for the 4x100 meters. The world 60 meter indoor champion Fasuba will lead the team, although his form has been down lately.
However, the point of encouragement for this Nigerian team is that Metu and Durotoye have both improved rapidly, and in fact have both beaten Fasuba over 100 meters recently. They should make the final.
Brazil (Vicente de Lima, Jose Carlos Moreira, Bruno de Barros, Sandro Viana) – While not possessing the quality of the other major hopes, Brazil still contains four runners who are more than capable. All four have run quite decent times this season, and if they run a good race technically in Beijing, they will be around the mark and may challenge for a medal.
They finished fourth in last year’s World Championships in a great time, and should again make the final comfortably this year.
France (Ronald Pognon, Martial Mbandjock, Christophe Lemaitre, David Alerte) – Traditionally a very strong relay outfit, the French haven’t had quite the same amount of success in recent years. However, this year they seem to be presenting a squad that rivals the talent and speed of any French team in the past.
They have had some problems with exchanges recently; however a clean run should see them at least make the Olympic Final.
Japan (Nobuharu Asahara, Naoki Tsukahara, Shingo Suetsugu, Shinji Takahira) – After finishing fifth in the 4x100 meter final at the 2007 World Championships with an Asian Record time, this team should again put up a good showing this year.
Japan always manages to field a great team for the relay, and this year’s squad may be one of their best. Japan usually excels technically in the relay, and if this continues they should make the final once again.
The remaining teams
Germany – Great recent form but lack of speed
Italy – Some good runners
Poland – Always performs well in the relay so could make the final
Netherlands – Probably won’t challenge
South Africa – Small chance of making the final
Canada – Traditional power in the event doesn’t currently have the quality
China – Quality is relatively unknown
Thailand – Unlikely to challenge for a spot in the final