In the first of our fab five series ahead of the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019 in Japan on 11-12 May, we delve into the relatively recent past to bring you a quintet of world record performances achieved at previous editions.
The Kenyan quartet of Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Obiri utterly obliterated the previous world record mark by an astounding 32 seconds.
To better the previous mark of 17:05.72 set by a Kenyan quartet at high altitude in Nairobi, each individual needed to run a tick under an average of 4:17 per leg. With a target that was easily within their range, the fab four clocked 16:33.58 with Obiri – the 2013 world 1500m bronze medallist – clocking the swiftest leg of 4:06.9 on anchor.
The 37-year-old world record set by West Germany was ruthlessly tossed aside by a quality Kenyan quartet who hacksawed more than 16 seconds from the previous mark.
In a demonstration of Kenyan middle-distance depth and class, the quartet of Collins Cheboi, Silas Kiplagat, James Magut and Asbel Kiprop stopped the clock after 6000m of running in 14:22.22. In a measure of the quality of the race, runners-up USA (14:40.80) and third-placed Ethiopia (14:41.22) slotted in at number four and five on the world all-time list.
The 20-year-old world record mark previously held by the all-American Santa Monica Track Club was erased from history as Jamaica’s awesome foursome blitzed around two laps of the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in a time of 1:18.63.
Powered by a scintillating anchor leg of 19.0 from Yohan Blake, the quartet – also comprising Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir and Jermaine Brown – earned a little slice of history by clipping 0.05 from the previous world record mark.
Women's distance medley relay
The US quartet butchered the previous world record mark by a margin of more than six seconds with an imperious performance in Nassau. France held a marginal lead from US first leg runner Treniere Moser (3:18.38) after the 1200m leg but a fleet-footed second leg of 50.12 by Sanya Richards-Ross put the US in total control.
From then on in it was a race against the clock as Ajee Wilson completed the two-lap distance in 2:00.08 and Shannon Rowbury 1600m in 4:27.92 to lead the quartet to a time of 10:36.50 – well under the previous mark posted indoors by a different US team.
Men's distance medley relay
Twenty four hours after the US women celebrated a distance medley relay world record, their male counterparts toasted the same achievement in a race which will be long remembered for a blistering anchor leg from Ben Blankenship (3:51.24).
The US, courtesy of Kyle Merber (1200m), Brycen Spratling (400m) and Brandon Johnson (800m), held a slight lead from Kenya and Australia when Blankenship, who was making his international debut for the US, grasped the baton.
He refused to panic when Kenya’s Timothy Cheriuyot built up a 20-metre lead. Biding his time, the 26-year-old Blankenship, complete with long hair and headband, slowly reduced the arrears before hitting the front on the final bend and crossing the line in a time of 9:15.50 to trim 0.06 from the former world record set nine years earlier by Kenya.
Steve Landells for the IAAF