An IAAF/BTC World Relays record in the women's 4x200m and yet another dramatic finish in the men's 4x100m were among the key highlights on the first day of the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017, with plenty more drama on tap when competition resumes this evening.
Jura Levy, Olympic 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Sashalee Forbes and double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson dominated gun-to-tape en route to their 1:29.04 performance to knock 0.41 from the competition record set by the USA two years ago.
This time around and well after Thompson crossed the line fist raised to the sky, the USA squad could do no better than third, after Gina Lukenkemper out-dueled Shalonda Solomon down the homestretch to give Germany surprise silver. [report | results]
The USA, out to defend their back-to-back Golden Baton honours, fared better in the men's 4x100m and women's 4x800m, collecting convincing victories to retain those respective titles and carry an 11-point lead into day two.
In the evening-capping men's 4x100m, showdowns between the USA, Jamaica and Canada never quite materialised: Canada missed their exchange between runners two and three while Jamaica suffered a similar fate and couldn't even manage to advance from the opening round heat. The last remaining challenge to the USA, an in-form British squad, also fell by the wayside when they botched the final exchange. That left Justin Gatlin alone at the front en route to their 38.43 win. Barbados was a distance second in 39.18 with China third. [report | results]
The evening's first final was deja vu all over again at Thomas A Robinson Stadium, with the USA winning their third straight title in the women's 4x800m. Chanelle Price, Chrishuna Williams, Laura Roesler and Charlene Lipsey won by nearly four seconds over Belarus in 8:16.36 with Australia taking third. [report | results]
Day 2 expected highlights
Competition kicks off at 19:35 local time (GMT+4) with the heats of the men's 4x200m before the inaugural mixed 4x400m brings down the curtain at 22:30.
In the latter, the focus will fall firmly on the hosts, with Bahamian golden girl Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Olympic 400m champion, and Steven Gardiner, the current world leader in the event, expected to compete.
Although neither team advanced to Sunday's final, both ran impressively in Saturday's 4x400m heats, with Miller-Uibo's 50.20 split the fastest of the round.
The men's 4x400m is shaping into a showdown between the USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. Botswana looked strong as well in the heats, propelled by Karabo Sibanda whose 44.82 was the fastest split of the opening round.
It'll likely be a similar scenario on the women's side with the focus on USA, Jamaica and an inspired Polish team.
The men's 4x800m, meanwhile, will present Kenya's best chance to bounce back from a sub-par opening day, entering the race as podium favourites alongside defending champions USA and Poland. Alongside them, the Athlete Refugee Team will be making their eagerly awaited IAAF World Athletics Series debut.
Action also gets underway in the women's 4x100m, where yet another USA-Jamaica showdown is expected.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF