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Women's 4x400m Relay PREVIEW

The 4x400m relay will be the final event of the women’s track and field programme in Athens, and by the time the finalists line-up on Saturday 28 August the race may well turn into a battle between the United States, Russia and Jamaica.

In both Sydney 2000 and Paris 2003 it was the United States who ended up with the gold medal with Jamaica and Russia respectively taking silver and bronze in Australia and then bronze and silver in France.

The US team could also have taken the World title in Edmonton 2001, had Suzanne Reid not dropped the baton after having been handed the stick with a massive 7-metre lead. Jamaica took advantage of the Americans’ misfortune thus taking the sole 4x400m gold medal for the country at any Olympics or World Championships.

Russia – or former USSR or Unified Teams – have a much better record at the event, as the Eastern Europeans have won a total of 3 Olympic and 2 World Championships gold medals.

As defending champions from Sydney 2000 and the fastest team in the World this year, the USA has so many quarter miler specialists that the gold medal in Athens will once again be theirs to lose.

The most difficult decision for the American team leaders will most probably be the team selection, as at a recent three nations match in Munich an American 'B' squad defeated the 'A' team which included the top three finishers at the US Trials (Monique Hennagan, Sanya Richards and Dee Dee Trotter), and the veteran Jearl Miles-Clark.

With four runners among the ten fastest 400m runners this year – and seven in the top 20 – Russia cannot be disregarded.

Other European teams should be in the loop for a spot in the final and maybe also a medal with Great Britain led by Olympic finalist Donna Fraser (back after injury), Germany headed by Grit Breuer, Romania led by 400m Hurdles specialist Ionela Tirlea-Manolache, and home favourites Greece led by another hurdler Fani Halkia.

Africa will be represented by Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria; South America by Brazil; Central America by Mexico, and Asia by India.

A true representation of the universality of track and field!