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Men's 4 x 100m Relay PREVIEW

Any preview of the relays at a major championship, prior to even the preliminary individual events being staged, can often be a futile exercise.

The most relevant, some might argue only relevant information, therefore, is the likely composition of the United States quartet, because in the past 44 years, the Americans have only twice missed out on the Olympic gold when they have contested the men’s sprint relay:

Once in 1996, when the Canadians, inspired by individual gold medallist Donovan Bailey, enjoyed one of their finest moments in Games history.

Also in 1988, when the Americans failed to get the stick around in the heats.

And it is to avoid any repetition of the latter that the US team coach George Williams has already decided plans to use Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin, Coby Miller and Maurice Greene throughout the qualifying rounds.

Comprising three of the world‘s four fastest men this season, it is a squad of awesome potential, and it comes into the Games having recently run the year's best time, 37.92.

With the inclusion of Greene and Crawford, obviously subject to how they progress in their individual races, the US team looks much stronger than the foursome of Capel, Williams, Patton and JJ Johnson that won the IAAF World title 12 months ago.

It could be that the Americans’ closest challengers come from Brazil, bronze medallists in Paris, Jamaica, led by the favourite for the 100m individual gold medal, Asafa Powell, while the European challenge may come from Britain, Germany or the usually well-drilled French team.