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By Local Organizing Committee, IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017

Nassau, The Bahamas – Organizers of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays Bahamas 2017 are hopeful that the newest feature on the schedule will garner a lot of interest, and create a lot of excitement, building on the momentum it gained from its inaugural run at the world youth championships two years ago.

The mixed 4×400 meters (m) relay is being introduced on the senior level, and will be ran at this year’s IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017, replacing the distance medley events. The IAAF World Relays is set for April 22-23, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas, and the final of the mixed relay will climax the two-day global meet.

IAAF Head of Competition Management Luis Saladie said that it is a new aspect of the sport that they hope catches on with the masses.

“In the first two editions of the world relays, for the 4×1500 in 2014 and the distance medley in 2015, the participation was not too great, and the important names were not coming down to take part,” said Saladie. “In Cali (2015 World Youth Championships), there was great participation in the mixed relay, and also the ambience in the stands was great. We figured it would be great to introduce it at the senior level for these world relays.”

The elimination of the distance medley races and the introduction of the new event reduces the number of events at the world relays by one, to nine – the men and women’s 4x100m, the men and women’s 4x200m, the men and women’s 4x400m, the men and women’s 4x800m and the mixed relay. The mixed relay gives 400m runners an added dimension to consider and explore. “For the 400-meter runners, this is a great opportunity for the ones who might not be in the top four for their country, to compete in an event,” said Saladie. “At this juncture it is too early to say who would be here for the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 and who will compete in this event, but we feel it could only promote the sport and promote gender equality. It’s our social responsibility to integrate that into the sport. This is another step in that direction. We feel that this new event will create a lot of excitement in the stadium, and will be a wonderful addition to the world relays.”

The United States easily won the mixed 4x400m relay at the world youth championships in Cali, Colombia, two years ago, and has dominated the first two editions of the world relays. They won the ‘Golden Baton’, which is handed out to the meet’s overall winner, in 2014 and again in 2015. With their depth in the sprints, particularly the 400m, they are expected to fare well in the mixed relay event at this year’s world relays. The competition is expected to be intense regardless.

“Right now, it’s experimental, but it is something that could be quite popular. Maybe, this mixed relay event could be added to future competitions,” said Saladie. “Depending on the results from The Bahamas, it could be possible to add this to the world championships in the future. “Whatever happens here, it will definitely be a world best performance. That’s better than to say a world record at this time, but maybe in the future it would be looked at as a world record in this event.”

The men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m events from the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 will be qualifying events for the IAAF World Championships in London, England, later this year. The top eight teams in each event will qualify for London. Saladie said that it is quite possible that some of the athletes who run in those events might double up and run the mixed relay as well.

“We feel that this event will attract some of the bigger names in the sport,” he said. “The top eight in the 4×1 and the 4×4 get to qualify for the London World Championships, and that is huge. That means they would not have to rely on rankings, so that alone should be a major attraction for some of the big names out there. Right now, it’s still too early to say who will be coming, but we feel that some of the big stars in the sport will be here in The Bahamas, and this mixed relay event in particular will come off well and be well received.”

In 2014, almost 600 athletes from 43 nations took part in the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014. One year later, there were more than 600 athletes. The local organizing committee of this year’s IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 (LOC) is expecting this year’s edition to be the biggest ever, in terms of participation of nations and competitors. Also, the world relays is now a World Athletics Series event. After the trial run in 2014, and again in 2015, it is now held every two years, and the 2019 edition is set for The Bahamas as well.

At this time, it’s too early to say if the mixed 4x400m relay will be a permanent component of the world relays going forward, but organizers are optimistic about the impact it will have and the interest it will generate. This year, it is the last event on the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 schedule, and is expected to close out an exciting two days of relay running in The Bahamas.