In our lead-in to the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017, set for Nassau on 22-23 April, we ask 2005 world 100m champion, two-time world 4x100m champion and 2012 Olympic 4x100m champion Lauryn Williams to run the rule over her all-time greatest women’s 4x100m quartet from history.
First leg: Evelyn Ashford (USA)
1984 Olympic 100m champion and three-time Olympic 4x100m gold medallist
Evelyn would be a great person to run first leg. She has a great start and would have the confidence to lead off the team. Her short legs will help navigate the turns better and ensure my team will make a great start.
If you have ever met Evelyn, she has a swagger, almost a royal air. She is an all-round good person, who brings a real positive energy to the team, which I think is super-important for relays. I’ve learned the lesson in the past of running relays alongside athletes with poor energy. You can have the fastest runners in the world, but if they have poor energy, things just don’t go well. Evelyn would get things done on the first leg.
Second leg: Wilma Rudolph (USA)
1960 Olympic 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion
I’ve admired Wilma Rudolph since I first picked her as my topic to study at school as a youngster. She is part of black history and the person who forged the way for so many black athletes, such as myself, who followed.
I would pick her to run leg two because her long legs would open up and power down that back stretch. If you consider how fast she could run back then with the limited technological resources available to her with the benefits of today’s tracks, coaching and sports science, she’d definitely be the fastest woman in the world.
Third leg: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
Two-time Olympic 100m champion and three-time 4x100m world champion
Shelly-Ann often runs first leg but I have faith in her ability to take two hand-offs. I often say the third leg is a really important part of the race. Many races are won or lost on the third leg. This is where you can open up a gap wide enough to set up the race to win, or if you bomb it, this then puts real pressure on your anchor leg runner.
Shelly-Ann has a great turnover and I don’t think anyone can match her. She can run an awesome 100m and 200m and would navigate the turn well.
Fourth leg: Christine Arron (FRA)
European 100m record-holder and 2003 world 4x100m champion
I call Christine Arron the ‘European Allyson Felix’ because, like Allyson, she drops a deadly bomb and then walks off with a smile. She is like the friendly assassin. She is a such a graceful runner and looks so effortless when she sprints.
For three seasons, it was Christine, myself and Veronica Campbell-Brown playing musical chairs every race. To be a good fourth leg runner, you have to maintain poise even under pressure and Christine can do this. We know she has the endurance and the speed, but sometimes you have to dig deeper and she has that ability.
Steve Landells for the IAAF