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Jamaica's men's 4x100m team should practice some more

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 5:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Jamaica's anchor Usain Bolt (left) speeds off after receiving the baton from Nickel Ashmeade, during the final of the men's 4x100 metres at the IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas.

In 1991, Randy Fagan produced a fine display to wrest the national men's singles table tennis title from reigning champion Keith Evans.

Asked after the victory for the secret to success, Fagan produced a gem.

He said: "Practise, practise and when you're finished, practise some more."

That's advice that could apply to our men's 4x100m team at last weekend's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays.

While three members of the winning United States of America (USA) team had run the previous week at the Penn Relays, only Nesta Carter was on duty at Penns and at the second staging of the World Relays in Nassau.

 

Penns a warm-up meet

 

Perhaps Penns should be thought of as a warm-up meet for those intending to go to Nassau in 2017 when the third edition of the event will be held.

The difference was clear. While the USA baton work was slick, Jamaica's passing was conservative. Add that to the speed of Justin Gatlin on the second leg and Tyson Gay on the third, and you get the 0.48-second deficit faced by Usain Bolt on the anchor leg.

As always, the tall man did the best he could. He produced the fastest relay anchor ever - 8.65 seconds - and reduced the gap to 0.30. That's the difference between the winning time - 37.38, the joint seventh fastest ever - and Jamaica's runner-up clocking of 37.68 seconds. Better baton passing would have put the tall man closer.

The raging debate about mandatory pre-Championship camps has faded, but there was never any question that relay teams need to practise together. Perhaps that will be plugged into the schedules after the June 25-27 Jamaican Championships and before the World Championships at the end of August in Beijing.

 

slick baton passing

 

Even if the Jamaica men's 4x100 team is changed by the results of the Trials, slick baton passing can only help.

The engine room of the USA team is Justin Gatlin, and as the 2014 Diamond League 100m winner, he is guaranteed a place on his national team for the Worlds. He's in such fine form that few in history can resist his speed on the second leg. That makes better baton passing a key mission for Jamaica, no matter who is on the team.

Bolt is obviously on his way back to fine form and, as World champion, he too has a reserved place in Beijing. If the baton passing mission is successful, he will be closer there. The 8.65 suggests that close will be all he needs.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.