Series27 Apr 2019

Fab five: reasons we love World Relays


Fab five: reasons we love World Relays (© Getty Images)

Three editions of the IAAF World Relays have been and gone and with the next one coming up in Yokohama on 11-12 May, we offer a quick reminder as to why we go giddy with excitement at the very thought of the event.


The Bahamas

Fans cheer and wave flags during day one of the IAAF World Relays at the Thomas Robinson Stadium


Nobody should undersell the seismic impact The Bahamas had into the health and wellbeing of the IAAF World Relays.

Host of the first three editions, the Caribbean island nation provided the perfect blend of unadulterated passion and enthusiasm, all played out to the wonderful Bahamian fusion of dance and music in the form of Junkanoo.

Those lucky enough to have witnessed the action inside the Thomas A Robinson Stadium will never forget the noise, colour and feel-good factor the meet has thus far generated.


Athlete heroes

Triple jump specialist Christian Taylor on the US 4x400m team at the 2014 IAAF World Relays in Nassau


From the heroics of the long-haired headband-wearing Ben Blankenship in the 2015 distance medley relay to the consistent gold medal-winning success of Chanelle Price (three-time 4x800m champion for the US), the event has thrown up many iconic champions.

Yet for sheer jaw-dropping brilliance, few moments could match world and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor taking time off from his speciality event to run a blistering 44.6 4x400m relay leg and help guide the US to gold at the inaugural event.



The British 4x400m team is introduced at the IAAF World Relays


The IAAF World Relays has never been afraid to take a risk and embrace innovation. From the athlete introductions – where athletes are unveiled like prize fighters from behind a curtain – to the instant victory ceremonies, the event has consistently proved new ideas can work.

The introduction of the highly entertaining mixed 4x400m relay at the 2017 edition – which provided more intrigue than a Lee Child novel – has proved a major plus.


Sheer drama

Angela Tenorio of Ecuador and Shaina Harrison of Canada in the 4x100m at the IAAF World Relays


Baton mishaps, great finishes, and breath-taking non-stop action, few competitions quite stir the soul like the IAAF World Relays.

The event has also witnessed five world records, a sackful of national records and has seen the re-emergence of long-forgotten events such as the 4x200m and, for the 2019 edition, the shuttle hurdles relay.

Oh, and it has also provided a healthy reminder of just how utterly captivating relays can be.


All for one

The Athlete Refugee Team enters the stadium at the IAAF World Relays


The USA may have held a vice-like grip on the golden baton after three successive wins and relay powerhouses such as Jamaica and Kenya have also excelled, but nations such as St Kitts and Nevis, Australia and Botswana have also achieved podium finishes.

In a further nod to the event’s inclusive nature, in 2017 the men’s 4x800m featured an Athlete Refugee Team. They finished almost a full minute behind the winners, USA, but the incredible support they received from the crowd provided one of the most heart-warming moments in the history of the event.

Steve Landells for the IAAF