Series13 Apr 2019

Fab five: World Relays shock performances


Fab five: World Relays shock performances (© Getty Images)

In the second of the fab five series ahead of the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019, set for 11-12 May, we look back on five major surprises that took place in the previous four editions of the IAAF's newest World Athletics Series event.


St Kitts and Nevis mount the podium


Delwayne Delaney of St Kitts and Nevis in the 4x200m at the IAAF World Relays


Watch on YouTube.

In a race best remembered for Jamaica’s world record-breaking performance, St Kitts and Nevis’ stunning 4x200m silver medal at the 2014 edition was in some respects no less impressive.

Minus their most high profile athlete – the 2003 world 100m champion Kim Collins – and profiting from a US baton bungle, the quartet of Antoine Adams, Lestrod Roland, Brijesh Lawrence and Allistar Clarke punched well above their weight to take a shock silver in 1:20.51. Boasting a population of little over 55,000, St Kitts and Nevis is comfortably the smallest nation to snare an IAAF World Relays medal.


The US topple crack Kenyan team


The victorious US women's 4x800m team at the IAAF World Relays


Watch on YouTube.

Boasting a 100 per cent record in the women’s 4x800m relay at the three previous editions of the IAAF World Relays, it is a little hard to comprehend how the USA’s victory in the inaugural event in Nassau could be categorised as a shock.

Yet in 2014 for the US quartet to defeat a Kenyan team containing two world 800m champions in Janeth Jepkosgei and Eunice Sum was a significant accomplishment. Chanelle Price put the US in control with a blistering first leg and it was a lead they never relinquished as Geena Lara, Ajee’ Wilson and Brenda Martinez, the 2013 World 800m silver medallist, ensured a comfortably victory by more than two-and-a-half seconds from the highly-touted Kenyan team.


Nigeria stay cool to reign supreme


Nigeria, winners of the women's 4x200m at the IAAF/BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015


Listen to the post-race interview on YouTube

In a race of high drama, it was not the USA or Jamaica but the unfancied Nigerians who stood on top of the podium in a memorable women’s 4x200m final at the 2015 edition. 

The US appeared all set for victory until a mishap of the final exchange denied them. With a Jamaican quartet containing two-time Olympic and two-time world 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown struggling to fire, the Nigerian team of 2013 World 200m bronze medallist Blessing Okagbare, Regina George, Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh, profited to strike gold in 1:30.52. Bahamas crossed the line second but were later disqualified for an exchange outside the changeover zone.


Canada pounce to defeat heavyweight performers


Andre de Grasse of Canada in the 4x200m final in Nassau


Watch on YouTube.

Canada administered a bloody nose to sprint giants USA and Jamaica to take a shock gold medal in the men’s 4x200m final at the 2017 IAAF World Relays.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Canadians had messed up a baton exchange which cost them a medal in the 4x100m but their quartet of Gavin Smellie, Brendon Rodney, Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown made no such errors in the 4x200m discipline. Stopping the clock in 1:19.42 the Canadians finished almost half-a-second clear of a US team boasting Noah Lyles and Ameer Webb.

Not only had they made up for the 4x100m, the team had also enjoyed a stroke of good fortune in the heats after the Canadian quartet had a false-start rescinded.


Germans take out a shock win


Rebekka Haase celebrates after anchoring Germany to gold in the women's 4x100m at the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017


Watch on YouTube.

Germany collected an unexpected gold medal at the 2017 IAAF World Relays courtesy of a slick performance in the women’s 4x100m.

Benefiting from the USA’s misfortune as first leg runner Tianna Bartoletta slipped and crashed to the track coming off the first turn, the German quartet of Alexandra Burghardt, Lisa Mayer, Tatjana Pinto and Rebekka Haase nonetheless put together a textbook piece of sprint relay action to cross the line in 42.84 – 0.11 clear of nearest pursuers Jamaica.

Steve Landells for the IAAF