Carmelita Jeter of the United States celebrates winning gold ahead of Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and set a new World Record in the Women's 4 x 100m Relay Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Women's 4x100m Relay – Preview

Slick baton changing and swift legs helped the USA to a stunning World record of 40.82 at the London 2012 Olympic Games and although only Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter of that quartet are competing in Moscow, the new faces are quick enough to ensure that the USA are favourites to retain the World title they won two years ago.

The US relay coaches can call upon English Gardner, Octavious Freeman and Alexandria Anderson, the one-two-three in the 100m at the US Championships who have all run well under 11 seconds this year.

As a reserve they have the luxury of Barbara Pierre who has run 10.85 this year but still didn’t make the individual 100m quartet.

After last year’s fireworks in London, when the USA improved by more than half a second on the former World record set by East Germany back in 1985, it will be intriguing to see how fast they can go this time.

A scratch quartet won in Monaco three weeks ago in a list-leading 41.75 and although pre-championship form is far from an accurate indicator of the destination of medals, the USA is more than half a second quicker than any other nation.

Jamaica finished second to USA at the last World Championships two years ago and at the Olympic Games. The form guide suggests that, barring accidents or baton-changing problems, which is always a possibility in the 4x100m Relay, they should mount the podium in second place again.

They came home in a national record of 41.41 in London, the third-fastest time in history, but current form suggests that they will struggle get close to that sort of time in Moscow and perhaps even breaking 42 seconds might be an optimistic target.

Two-time Olympic Games 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce got Jamaica off to a good start when running the opening leg in Daegu and London, but the question is how much firepower do the Jamaicans have after her?

Kerron Stewart featured in both the Daegu and London silver medal-winning teams and has run 10.96 this year, when winning her 100m national title, so will be a huge asset. However, the other two most likely team members, Schillonie Calvert and Sherri-Ann Brooks, have not run under 11 seconds this year and are quite simply not quite as fast as their US counterparts.

The battle for the bronze could be fascinating.

Ukraine won the 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal, coming home in a national record of 42.04, and showed that they were on the right track to do well in Moscow when they won at the European Team Championships in June.

Trinidad and Tobago has the super-quick Kelly-Ann Baptiste in their quartet, helped by Olympic Games 200m finalist Semoy Hackett, who usually runs the anchor leg.

Great Britain, 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Germany and hosts Russia all have a chance to be involved in the battle for third place if they can raise their game and hand over the baton well, while it would also be unwise to write off the chances of surprise Olympic Games fourth-place finishers Nigeria or the Bahamas.

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Phil Minshull for the IAAF