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All eyes on track as mixed 4x400m relays debuts in Tokyo

mixed relays

 

There is one event on the athletics programme in Tokyo that has no previous Olympic medallists, no Olympic records and, in fact, no Olympic history at all.

The mixed 4x400m relay will be making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, a discipline featuring teams of two men and two women competing against each other in any order they choose.

Fans will get an early taste of the new event as the first round takes place on day one of the athletics competition on 30 July, with the final set for the next evening.

First tried out at the senior level at the 2017 World Relays in Nassau, the mixed relay featured at the World Championships for the first time in Doha in 2019 and proved to be a big hit with its unique and unpredictable format.

The US team of Wil London, Allyson Felix, Courtney Okolo and Michael Cherry won gold in a world record time of 3:09.34. That came just a day after a US quartet made of four different athletes – Tyrell Richard, Jessica Beard, Jasmine Blocker and Obi Igbokwe – set a world mark of 3:12.42 in the heats.

The USA shapes up as the favourites in Tokyo, with a pool of top 400m runners that includes three of the winning Doha team.

The US men’s 400m qualifiers for the Games are Michael Norman, Cherry and Randolph Ross. Bryce Deadmon is also part of the mixed relay pool, with London as an alternate.

The mixed event has opened the door to more countries which otherwise might not have four world-class 400m runners of the same gender for the traditional 4x400m.

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Sixteen teams qualified for Tokyo: USA, Jamaica, Bahrain, Great Britain, Poland, Belgium, India, Brazil, Italy, Dominican Republic, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine and Nigeria.

Fans will have to wait to see which runners will be chosen to run and in what order.

The mixed relay will be fresh and unpredictable. What’s certain is that the event will produce new – and first ever – Olympic champions.

 

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