May25,2014 ISN – Two world records have been set on the first day of the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays at Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. 

Kenya’s women took more than 30 seconds off their own 4×1,500 metres mark with a time of 16min 33.58sec and Jamaica’s 4x200m team took 0.05sec off the 20-year-old 4x200m record established by the Santa Monica Track Club, clocking 1:18.63.

Both teams took the winning prize of $50,000 (£29,701/€36,683) and an additional $50,000 on offer for world records at the two-day meeting in the newly rebuilt Thomas A Robinson stadium.

A final leg clocked unofficially at 19.00 by the 2011 world 100m champion Yohan Blake ensured the Jamaican quartet eclipsed the mark set at the 1994 Mt Sac relays by a quartet including two former world 100m record holders in Leroy Burrell and Carl Lewis.

Blake was offered the opportunity to shine thanks to three outstanding legs from Nickel Ashmeade, world silver medallist Warren Weir and Jermaine Brown.

Yohan Blake plays 'The Beast' after anchoring Jamaica to a world 4x200m record at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau ©Getty ImagesYohan Blake plays “The Beast” after anchoring Jamaica to a world 4x200m record at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau ©Getty Images

For the US quartet, the day ended in disqualification for a baton exchange between last year’s world bronze medallist Curtis Mitchell and Ameer Webb, which was completed outside the allowed zone.

The US team crossed the line in third place behind an inspired St Kitts and Nevis quartet of Antoine Adams, Lestrod Roland, Brijesh Lawrence and Allistar Clarke which clocked 1:20.51.

The disqualification meant that a French quartet including Olympic medallist Christophe Lematire moved up to third place in a European record of 1:20.66.

The Jamaicans were pressed early by a swift first leg from Adams out in lane eight  and as his compatriot Roland came down the homestretch he swung his left arm – the one holding the baton – over his head as though to invite the others to challenge.

Barbados (fourth, 1:21.88) and Kenya (fifth, 1:22.35) also set new national records.

The Bahamas set a national record of 1:22.18 in qualifying for the final.

Two of the Kenyan women who had run 17:05.72 in last month’s 4×1,500m in Nairobi, Mercy Cherono and Irene Jelegat, were joined in the packed stadium by Faith Kipyegon and world indoor 1,500m champion Hellen Obiri, who set an African 3,000m record at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha earlier this month.

“We had a very strong team who set the record last month,” Obiri had said on the eve of competition. 

“But the team is stronger now. Kenya can do it.”

Cherono opened with a leg of 4:07.4, leading at the handover, Kipyegon followed with 4:08.5, Jalegat ran a leg of 4:10.8 with Obiri bringing Kenya home with 4:06.9 – all splits unofficial.

Kenya became the first gold medallists in this new event when they took the men’s 4x800m final in emphatic fashion, crossing the line in 7:08.40. 

The team led from gun to tape but fell short of the world record which has stood to their country since 2006, when a time of 7:02.43 was achieved.

Ferguson Rotich took a 10m lead at the end of the first lap, covered in 50.70. 

Laban Rotich then struggled on the second lap before handing off to Sammy Kirongo as Kenya reached 800m in 1:46.00.

Brandon Johnson of the United States (right) sets off after a baton exchange during the 4x800m final in Nassau ©Getty ImagesBrandon Johnson of the United States (right) sets off after a baton exchange during the 4x800m final in Nassau ©Getty Images

Kirongo’s first lap of 50.40 extended Kenya’s lead but again he slowed over the second 400m; 1,600m was passed in 3:31.70 and the world record was clearly beyond reach.

Job Koech ran his first 400m in 50.00, but his second in 57.90, and he had slowed almost to a walk in handing over to Alfred Kipketer, whose own 49.00sec opening lap was followed by 59.80.

At the close of the third leg, Brandon Johnson and Marcin Lewandowski, of the USA and Poland respectively, handed off almost in unison to Duane Solomon and Adam Kszczot.

Kszczot, the two-time European 800m indoor champion, beat Solomon to the inside line despite having taken the baton on the outside, and as the pair closed quickly on Kipketer, he beat Solomon to the finish for a Polish national record of 7:08.69. 

USA took the bronze medals with 7:09.06.

The women’s 4x100m gold went to the United States, thanks to a combination of an outstanding run on the second bend by Jeneba Tarmoh and swift baton exchanges which brought them home in 41.88.

The victory put the US women, who set the world record of 40.82 at the London 2012 Olympic Games final, back on top of the global rankings for the sprint relay after taking silver behind rivals Jamaica at last year’s IAAF World Championships. 

It also earned them automatic qualification for next year’s World Championships in Beijing.

Neither the United States nor Jamaica, who took second place in 42.28, had their strongest talent available, as Jamaica’s winning anchor runner from Moscow 2013 and last year’s IAAF World Athlete of The Year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, though entered, did not run, and many of the top American women had not entered