Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 4x100m at the London 2012 Olympic Games (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Preview: women’s 4x100m – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Expect the race for 4x100m gold to be a familiar battle between Olympic champions the USA and world champions Jamaica as the two sprinting superpowers go head to head once again.

Four years ago, the US quartet of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter provided one of the highlights of the London 2012 Olympic Games by blitzing to victory in a world record of 40.82 to comprehensively defeat their erstwhile Caribbean rivals.

Yet since that thunderous display in the British capital, it is the Jamaicans who have held sway in major championships by banking successive world titles in Moscow and Beijing.

Jeter and Knight no longer feature for the US squad but with three sub-10.80 sprinters to draw upon in English Gardner (10.74), Bartoletta (10.78) and Tori Bowie (10.78), USA will once again form a formidable unit.

Standing in their way will be a Jamaican squad brimming with experience.

Led by world 100m leader Elaine Thompson (10.70), supported by two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and further bolstered by Veronica Campbell-Brown, who is seeking a fifth successive appearance at an Olympic 4x100m final, the Jamaicans will be confident of regaining this title last won in Athens 2004.

Among the rest, 2015 world championships bronze medallists Trinidad and Tobago ooze class and with Michelle-Lee Ahye (10.94), Kelly-Ann Baptiste (11.04) and Semoy Hackett (11.07) in their squad, they have the raw speed to challenge.

Chasing a first Olympic medal in this event since the iconic Fanny Blankers-Koen anchored the Dutch to victory at the 1948 Olympics, the Netherlands will be optimistic of ending that 68-year drought in Rio.

Led by world 200m champion Dafne Schippers, the Dutch claimed 4x100m gold in a national record of 42.04 at the European Championships last month and come into the medal equation at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Another team with podium hopes are Great Britain, who clocked the second-fastest time this year of 41.81 at last month’s London IAAF Diamond League event.

The quartet of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita produced a supreme display last month to further underline their medal potential in Rio having earlier this summer claimed a European silver medal.

Look out too for Germany, the European bronze medallists, who are usually well-drilled in baton changing and recorded a blistering world-leading time of 41.62 in Mannheim to put them in the frame for a potential medal in Rio.

Canada will also seek to mount a strong challenge and will be respected after successive sixth-place finishes at the past two editions of the World Championships.

Meanwhile hosts Brazil, who were seventh at the 2012 Olympic final, have a season’s best of 42.59 and, spurred on by a home crowd, could also be a factor

Other nations to keep an eye on include Olympic bronze medallists Ukraine, who finished fourth last month’s European Championships, China, who have posted a season’s best of 42.65, and the 2012 Olympic fourth-place finishers Nigeria.

Steve Landells for the IAAF