Comfort and consternation
IF you feel that Jamaica could dominate the women’s 4x100 metres relay and break the world record, a scan of the all-time senior and under-20 performance list will bring you both comfort and consternation. The United States of America (USA)...
IF you feel that Jamaica could dominate the women’s 4x100 metres relay and break the world record, a scan of the all-time senior and under-20 performance list will bring you both comfort and consternation. The United States of America (USA) occupies the top two spots on the seniors list, courtesy of a past generation of sprinters, while Jamaica fills the top of the under-20 list with a bunch of current 18-year-olds. The only trouble is that the USA 2022 World Champion team is young and has possible reinforcements.
Though Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter clobbered Jamaica to set a world record 40.82 seconds 10 years ago at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, that time is still stunning. Another USA team with Bartoletta and Felix clocked 41.01 at the 2016 Games to come the closest anyone has come to the record.
Jamaica’s 2021 Olympic team – Briana Williams, Elaine Thompson Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson – is third fastest at 41.02 seconds.
Curiously, the top time on the World Athletics under-20 performance list is 42.58 seconds, the winning time scored by Jamaica’s Serena Cole, Tina Clayton, Brianna Lyston and Tia Clayton at the Carifta Games in Kingston this April. As we all know, that mark was erased by an oversight in the doping control procedure.
Performances by Cole, Tina Clayton, Kerrica Hill and Tia Clayton – 42.59 and 42.94 at the 2022 and 2022 World Under-20 Championships – come next.
At the Carifta Games no one on the team had reached 18 yet. Add 23-year-old Kemba Nelson and the 20-year-old pair of Williams and Kevona Davis, who all ran under 11 seconds this year, and the potential for continued relay success is evident. While Felix, Knight and Jeter have retired, the ageless Fraser-Pryce, the 28-year-old Jackson and Thompson Herah, 30, could all be in their prime in 2023 and 2024.
However, the USA is accelerating too. Melissa Jefferson, Abby Stenier, Jenna Prandini and Twanisha Terry clocked 41.14 seconds to beat Jamaica at this year’s World Championships. Jefferson, 21, Steiner, 22, and Terry 23, are fine newcomers, all battle tested in the cauldron of NCAA track and field.
The Americans lost World 100m finalist Aleia Hobbs, 26, to COVID and may also consider Gabby Thomas, the only woman to beat Jackson over 200 metres in 2022, two-time NCAA 200 champion Angie Annellus and 19-year-old Tamari Davis whose 2022 best is 10.83.
It would be rude to write off the Germans, who held the world under-20 record before Jamaica took charge, or Britain, whose sprint corp includes the outstanding Dina Asher-Smith, or Namibia, whose top speedster is Christine Mboma, the Olympic 200m runner-up ahead of Thomas. However, the gold at next year’s World Championships and the 2024 Olympics will go to Jamaica or the USA, depending on which team prepares the best.
40.82 2012 USA Bartoletta, Felix, Knight, Jeter
41.01 2016 USA Bartoletta, Felix, Gardner, Bowie
41.02 2021 JAM B Williams, ET-H, SAFP, Jackson
41.07 2015 JAM VCB, Morrison, ET, SAFP
41.14 2022 USA Jefferson, Stenier, Prandini, Terry
41.18 2022 JAM Nelson, ET-H, SAFP, Jackson
42.59 2022 JAM Cole, Tina Clayton, Hill, Tia Clayton
42.94 2021 JAM Cole, Tina Clayton, Hill, Tia Clayton
43.27 2017 GER Fehm, Kwadwo, Junk, Montag
43.28 2022 JAM Cole, Tina Clayton, James, Tia Clayton
SOURCE: World Athletics