ATHLETICS: U.S. starts World Relays with wins in two oddball Mixed events

American middle-distance star Donavan Brazier

The Shuttle Hurdles and 2x2x400 m relays are – at best – fun events for U.S. spring relay meets, but they were front and center as the highlights of the first day of the fourth IAAF World Relays.

In front of an announced crowd of 15,000 in the Yokohama International Stadium, these were the only two finals on the first day of the meet. In the 2x2x400 m, Kenya took the lead by running Collin Kipruto on the first leg – one of just two teams to run a man first – and grabbed a seven-second lead over the rest of the field, including Ce’Aira Brown of the U.S.

American Donavan Brazier made up most of the deficit on his leg and handed off to Brown just behind Kenya’s Eglay Nalyanya. But Kipruto took over again and handed off with a 7.0-second lead over Australia and 7.8 seconds over the U.S.

But Brazier was up to the challenge and ran the final 400 m in 48.82 and took the lead into the final straightaway for a 3:36.92 win and a “world record” … according to Brazier. Australia’s Joshua Ralph came home second, but the Kenyans were disqualified for running inside the curb.

In the Shuttle Hurdles, only the U.S. and Japan actually ran, as Jamaican injuries prevented them from running and Australia was disqualified for a false start. Japan had the lead for 2 1/2 legs, but then Sharika Nelvis took control on the third leg and Devon Allen finished cleanly for an easy U.S. victory.

In the races that the fans had actually seen before, Great Britain led the men’s 4×100 m qualifying with a world-leading 38.11, with the U.S. winning its heat in 38.34 with Michael Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Isiah Young and Cameron Burrell. The time was only the fourth-fastest of the day, but the U.S. was not pressed.

In the men’s 4×400 m, the U.S. led the qualifying at 3:02.06, with Nathan Strother (44.80), Josephus Lyles (46.40), Paul Dedewo (45.10) and Ja’Von Hutchison (45.76) handling the stick. Trinidad & Tobago ran 3:02.49 as the next fastest, winning heat three.

The U.S. led the women’s 4×1 heats, running a world-leading 42.51 with Mikiah Brisco, Ashley Henderson, Dezerea Bryant and Aleia Hobbs on board. Germany was next fastest at 43.03. In the women’s 4×4, the U.S. ran a world-leading 3:25.72 with Jaide Stepter (51.60), Jordan Lavender (51.50), Joanna Atkins (51.40) and Courtney Okolo (51.22) cruising; no one else broke 3:28.

The final day (Sunday) begins at 5:00 a.m. Eastern time and will be televised in the U.S. on NBC’s Olympic Channel. Summaries:

IAAF World Relays
Yokohama (JPN) ~ 11-12 May 2019
(Full results here)


2x2x400 m: 1. Ce’Aria Brown/Donavan Brazier (USA), 3:36.92 (world best); 2. Catriona Bisset/Joshua Ralph (AUS), 3:37.61; 3. Ayano Shiomi/Allon Clay (JPN), 3:38.36; 4. Anna Dobek/Patryk Dobek (POL), 3:42.14; 5. Marina Arzamasova/Aliaksandr Vasileuskiy (BLR), 3:51.64.

Shuttle Hurdles: 1. United States (Christina Clemons, Freddie Crittenden, Sharika Nelvis, Devon Allen), 54.96; 2. Japan (Kimura, Takayama, Aoki, Kanai), 55.59; only finishers.