Usain Bolt was disappointed but still combative at the weekend, as his Jamaican team were beaten into 2nd place by the Americans at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas. The early season reversal may have laid down a marker for the likely outcome at this summer's World Championships in Beijing. Bolt was quick to assure the doubters that his nation would be far better placed by the time of the major event. Team GB had mainly good fortune as three of their relay teams qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Sadly, a vastly depleted men's 4x100m team were the exception.
USA lay down a marker
USA were clearly keen to set out their intentions this summer, sending a very strong quartet to the annual international relays' meeting. Many neutrals in the world of #Athletics disprove of their top male sprinters, after they have previously served drugs' bans from the sport. Yet there is no doubting their talent, with the likes of Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers all featuring in the 4x100m relay event in Nassau. It was left to the remaining member of their team, Ryan Bailey to hold off a charging Bolt on the anchor leg. America's winning time of 37.38 seconds gave them a healthy 0.3 seconds margin over the Jamaicans.
Jamaica could point to the absence of their Olympic 100m silver medallist from London, Yohan Blake from their team. It was still a powerful line-up that started for them though with Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole joining Bolt.
The same could not be said of the British team in the same event. In the aftermath of their disappointing failure to make even the final at the meeting, team member Richard Kilty has been stinging in his criticism of those who were absent. With Adam Gemili, James Dasaolu, Chijindu Ujah and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey all being unavailable for various reasons, a podium finish was never likely. By bowing out in the heats they missed out on the chance of securing early Rio qualification, but should have further opportunities during the summer to achieve that target. Kilty said: "I personally feel let down" (by those who didn't travel).
Jamaica did gain some revenge for their short sprint relay loss by taking the men's 4x200m relay. Bolt sat that one out though as a precaution with a tight hamstring. The Americans failed to finish the race, as a poor changeover saw them disqualified.
The remaining races saw two encouraging bronze medals for the women's 4x100m and 4x400m squads. It was particularly heart-warming for the short sprint squad, after missing out on competing at their home Games at London 2012. They just edged Canada into 4th with a time of 42.84 seconds, with Jamaica beating USA for the gold. Their longer relay compatriots finished 0.3 seconds ahead of France in 3:26.38. Ahead of them were the USA and Jamaican teams.
Qualification was also secured by the men's 4x400m team, as a spirited effort saw them clinch 6th place in the final. They should be capable of improving on their time of 3:01.50 when Martyn Rooney and Matthew Hudson-Smith are available again. The gold and silver medallists at last year's European Championships over 400m should come into the team over the next few months. USA will remain the team to beat in the summer though after victory in Nassau.Only the top eight nations in each of the Olympic-distance relay events were automatically guaranteed a place at next year's Rio Games.