Alfred Kipketer of Kenya celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Adam Kszczot of Poland to win the Mens 4x800 metres relay during day one of the IAAF World Relays
Last year, Kenya fulfilled its role as favourite and took the victory but they made astonishing hard work of it with an erratic race which showed tactical naivety and inexperience at relay running over this distance, so what lessons will they have learned?
Only the world youth and wold junior champion Alfred Kipketer remains from last year’s winning team but few who watched last year’s World Relays will forget how he took off on the anchor leg and flew through a first lap in 49.0 before struggling round his second lap in 59.8, only just managing to hold off a rapidly closing Adam Kszczot from Poland.
This year’s Kenyan squad, which also includes Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum and Jeremiah Mutai, doesn’t appear to have quite the talent that the 2014 team had but they might still have a shot at the world record of 7:02:43, set at the Brussels Golden League meeting in 2006, if they run a more well-considered and managed race than their counterparts 12 months ago.
Kszczot, the European champion, heads up an accomplished Polish team that also includes European indoor 800m champion Marcin Lewandowski and they must have making the podium as a target.
The USA, third in 2014, have also sent a strong squad which could surprise the two favourites.
Robby Andrews, Brandon Johnson and Duane Solomon ran the last three legs for the USA last year and are backed up this year by the likes of Casimir Loxsom and Erik Sowinski.
Australia finished fourth last year but don’t look quite as strong this time. A team that could challenge last year’s top trio is Bahrain, who have 2009 world champion Yusuf Saad Kamal and the experienced Belal Ali Mansoor in their quartet.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF