Aleen Bailey: Chemistry most important for 4x100m record run
Relays have provided some of the most iconic moments in Jamaica’s track and field history - a stunning world record triumph by the legendary Helsinki quartet in the 1952 Olympic Games 4x400 metres final, Merlene Ottey’s searing anchor in the 1991 World Championships sprint relay and the first sub-37 seconds clocking in London by Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt ten years ago. According to World and Olympic 4x100m gold medallist Aleen Bailey, another big moment could be in the making.
Jamaica won the 2021 Olympic women’s 4x100m relay in a national record time of 41.02 seconds and Bailey believes this year’s team could challenge the world record of 40.82 seconds at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“It’s not the baton passes and it’s not speed. It’s if the chemistry is right. The chemistry has to be right,” she declared.
Asked to explain, Bailey detailed: “We have to be one unit and we have to be friends and not think of self and we have to work as a team and as a unit, and where somebody falls off, somebody else catches up. This thing is with the two teams that I was on, everybody was willing to work, to be placed where it fits you. There was no ego or I’m this so I have to go here.”
She used the male teams led by Bolt as examples. “The reason why the Jamaican men 4x100m always won is the chemistry. They’re like siblings. They’re like brothers,” she recounted of a period when Jamaica was invincible in the men’s 4x100m.
Carter, Frater, Bolt and Asafa Powell crossed the line first at the 2008 Olympics and took the gold medals in the 2009 World Championships. “One year,” she remembered, “Asafa wasn’t on the team and I think somebody else replaced Asafa, once you come in, you become a part of the brotherhood.”
When injury took Powell out of the reckoning, Carter, Frater, Blake and Bolt set world records of 37.04 and 36.84 second respectively at the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
In 2013, Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Nickel Ashmeade and Bolt beat the field in the World Championships, with Carter, Powell, Ashmeade and Bolt winning at the 2015 Worlds. The final win in this dominant era came at the 2016 Olympics where Powell, Blake, Ashmeade and Bolt stepped 37.27 seconds to take the gold medals.
Stressing the willingness of those men to do what was beneficial to the team, she said: “Bolt was the fastest man and everybody said why is he not running anchor leg, it’s because he fits better where he is because he didn’t always run the anchor leg until Yohan came and Yohan was as capable as him to run a really good curve.”
“So as a unit,” Bailey concluded, “you have to put the team together not based on who is this, or who is that. It’s who fits where and the chemistry has to be unmatched.”
The first round of the relay is set for today.