• Preview: World Athletics Relays Silesia 2021
Olympic 100m finalist and African champion Akani Simbine, European 400m indoor champion Femke Bol, European 60m indoor champions Marcell Jacobs and Ajla Del Ponte, 400m world outdoor silver medallist Anthony Zambrano, Blessing Okagbare, two-time World 200m champion Dafne Schippers and Belgian brothers Kevin and Dylan Borlée will be in the spotlight at the fifth edition of the World Relays at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow (Poland).
The World Relays were held in the Bahamian capital of Nassau for the first three editions, while the Japanese city of Yokohama hosted this event in 2019.
The Silesian Stadium hosts the annual Memorial Kamila Skolimowska, the Polish leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour.
Five national teams that reached the men’s 4x100 final at the World Championships in Doha are entered at the World Relays in Chorzow: Brazil, South Africa, France, Japan and the Netherlands.
Brazil won the 4x100 title at the 2019 edition of the World Relays in Yokohama when Paulo André Camilo de Oliveira held off Noah Lyles by 0.02 to cross the finish line in 38.05.
De Oliveira, who claimed two gold medals in the 100m and 200m at the World University Games in Neaples later that year, will be back in action at the World Relays this year. The Brazilian team also features Rodrigo do Nascimento and Derick Silva, who joined De Oliveira in the team, which finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha in 37.72.
Akani Simbine leads a strong South African team, that also features Clarence Munyai, Thando Dlodlo and Tlotlso Leotlela. South Africa set a continental record of 37.65 in the heats of the World Championships in Doha 2019 before finishing fifth in the final in 37.73. Simbine has clocked three times under the 10 seconds barrier earlier this year and won the National 100m title in Pretoria in 9.99 after clocking a wind-assisted 9.82 in the semifinal.
The French team is led by reigning 200m Olympic bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre, who contributed to the bronze medal in the 4x100 at the Olympic Games in London 2012.
Churandy Martina and European indoor 60m bronze medallist Joris Van Gool are the top names of the Dutch team, which reached the final at the 2019 World Championships after setting the national record of 37.91 in the heats.
Japan boasts a strong tradition in the 4x100 relay winning the Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and the world bronze medal in Doha 2019. The Asian team is represented by a young team that features Kazuma Higuchi, Soshi Mizukubo, Ryuichiro Sakai, Ryota Suzuki and Hiroki Yanagita.
This year’s European 60m Indoor champion Marcell Jacobs, National 100m record holder Filippo Tortu and European 200m finalist Eseosa Desalu are part of a strong Italian team, that aims to secure a qualifying spot for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Italy broke the National record with 38.11 in the heats of the World Championships in Doha, but this time was not enough to qualify for the final.
Julian Reus joins the German team again after winning three European Championships medals (silver in Helsinki 2012 and Zurich 2016 and bronze in Amsterdam 2016). World and European 200m champion Ramil Gulyev is the top name in the Turkish team.
Switzerland and Italy are the only two entered teams, that have already qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo after reaching the final at the World Championships in Doha. The USA, Germany and Jamaica will not send teams in Chorzow, while Great Britain will only compete in the 4x400 relays.
Reigning European 60m indoor champion Ajla Del Ponte leads a strong Swiss team, that features Sarah Atcho and Salome Kora. Reigning world 200m bronze medallist Mujinga Kambundji has been sidelined by a foot fracture at the end of last year and has delayed the start of her season.
A strong Dutch team features two-time 200m world champion Dafne Schippers, European Indoor 60m champion Nadine Visser and European Indoor bronze medallist Jamile Samuel.
Italy broke the National record of 42.90 in the heats of the World Championships in Doha 2019 before finishing seventh in the final with 42.98. Johanelis Herrera Abreu, Gloria Hooper, Anna Bongiorni and Irene Siragusa, who were part of that team, will be back in action in Chorzow.
Nigeria features Blessing Okagbare, who won the 100m in 10.97 in the Eugene Continental Tour meeting last Saturday, and Tobi Amusan, who won the title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Former European Indoor champion Ewa Swoboda from Poland will compete in both the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
Carolle Zahi, who won the 4x200 title in Yokohama 2019, leads the French team.
The top eight teams in the women’s and men’s 4x100 finals will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The eight teams in the final and those with the next two best times in the first round, will secure their spot for the 2022 World Championships in Eugene.
Men’s 4x400 relay:
Belgium starts as the favourite team in Chorzow two years after winning the bronze medal in the men’s 4x400 at the 2019 World Championships in Doha in 2:58.78. The Belgian team formed by brothers Kevin and Dylan Borlée will face Colombia, which finished fourth at the World Championships in Doha 2019 setting a national record of 2:59.50. The South American team features Anthony Zambrano, who won the 400m world silver medal in 44.15, Alejandro Perlaza, Diego Palomeque and John Alexander Solis.
The Polish team includes Lukasz Krawczuk, Jakub Krzewina and Karol Zalewski, who won the world indoor title in the 4x400 relay in Birmingham 2018.
The Netherlands could fight for a top-three spot after winning the European Indoor gold medal in Torun two month ago with a team formed by Liemarvin Bonevacia, Jochem Dobber, Ramsey Angela and Tony Van Diepen.
Italy has already secured a spot for the Olympic Games thanks to sixth place in the final of the 2019 World Championships in Doha with a team featuring Edoardo Scotti, Vladimir Aceti, National 400m record holder Davide Re and Matteo Galvan. The goal of the Italian team could be the attack to the long-standing National record of 3:01.37 set at the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart. Re made his seasonal debut clocking 45.76 in the 400m in Rieti beating the Borlée brothers last week.
Japan just missed the final at the 2019 World Championships in Doha by 0.09 and are looking to secure a spot for the Olympic Games after finishing fourth at the past edition of the World Relays in Yokohama 2019 with a team featuring Julian Walsh and Kentaro Sato, who will be part of the Japanese team in Chorzow.
Other top names expected to compete in Chorzow are 2021 European Indoor champion Oscar Husillos from Spain, 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Isaac Makwala from Botswana and three-time world indoor champion, Pavel Maslak, from the Czech Republic.
A strong Dutch team featuring Lieke Klaver, Marit Dopheide, Lisanne de Witte and European Indoor 400m champion Femke Bol won the European Indoor gold medal in a championship record of 3:27.15 in Torun, as Poland finished third. Bol scored the double winning the 400m and the 4x400 relay European Indoor titles and set five national indoor records.
The Netherlands could attack the National record of 3:26.98 set the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
Poland won the World Relays 4x400 title in Yokohama and the world silver medal in Doha in 2019. Despite the absence of 400m European outdoor champion Justyna Swiety Ersetic the home team is very competitive and could fight for a top-three position. The top names are Iga Baumgart Witan, Patrycyia Wyciszkiewicz, Malgorzata Holub Kowalik and 17-year-old rising star Kornelia Lesiewicz.
Great Britain could fight for a top-three spot after finishing fourth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and second at the 2021 European Indoor Championships in Torun.
Belgium has already secured the spot for the Olympic Games with fifth place at the World Championships in Doha in 3:27.15 after breaking the national record with 3:26.58 in the heats.
Italy finished third behind Poland and Great Britain at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama and fourth at the European Indoor Championships in Torun setting the national record of 3:30.32. The Italian team narrowly missed out on the final at the World Championships in Doha and will be looking to secure a spot for the Olympic Games.
Mixed 4x400 relay:
The mixed relay will make its debut on the Olympic stage in Tokyo next summer and the World Relays are the opportunity to secure the qualifying spot for the Olympic Games. The eight teams to reach the 4x400 mixed relay in Chorzow will automatically qualify for Tokyo.
Home team Poland has already secured a spot for the Olympic Games thanks to the fifth place in the final at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. The Polish team features Karol Zalewski and Jakub Krzewina, who won the world indoor gold medal in Birmingham 2018, Natalia Kaczmarek, European Under 23 gold medallist Karolina Lozowska and Natalia Widawska.
Another contender for a top-three spot is Great Britain, that finished fourth at the World Championships in Doha. The British team features Amy Allcock, European Indoor medallists Ami Pipi, Joe Brier and James Williams.
The Belgian team could fight for the podium with a strong team that features Kevin and Dylan Borlée, who have been entered for both the 4x400 and the mixed relay. The other Belgian athletes to follow are Joanthan Saccor, 400m world under 20 champion in 2018, and European Indoor 400m silver medallist Cynthia Bolingo.
Femke Bol and Lieke Klaver from the Netherlands could fight for the podium in both the 4x400 and the mixed relay.
Emmanuel Korir, who clocked 44.21 in the 400m and 1:42.05 in the 800m in his career, leads a strong Kenyan team, which also features Aron Koech, who anchored his team to third place at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama behind the USA and Canada.
Italy finished fourth in 3:20.28 at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, but it narrowly missed a spot in the World Championships final in Doha by 0.4 after clocking 3:16.52 in the heats.
Colombia’sAnthony Zambrano has been entered in both the 4x400 and mixed relay teams.
Men’s 4x200 relay:
Germany will be aiming for a third top-three spot after finishing third in 2015 and 2019. The German team set a national record of 1:21.26 at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama.
Ecuador features 2019 world bronze medallist Alex Quinonez, the fastest sprinter of the entire field with his PB of 19.87 set in Lausanne in 2019.
Kenya features Mark Odhiambo, who recently set his PB of 10.11 in the 100m and will make his third appearance at the World Relays. The Kenyan team finished fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2019 in this event at these championships.
The best European teams entered are Poland (fourth in 2015), Portugal and Denmark, which features teenager Tazana Kamanga Dyrbak, who set the national record with 20.48.
It’s going to be a wide-open competition. All of the past winners, USA, Nigeria, Jamaica and France have not entered a women’s 4x200 relay team. This means that there will be a new champion team at this event.
Former European 60m indoor gold medallist Ewa Swoboda and national 200m champion Natalia Goula lead the Polish team.
Angela Tenorio and rising star Gabriela Anahi Suarez, who clocked 11.16 in the 100m, carry the hopes of the Ecuador team, who finished sixth at the 2019 edition of the World Relays in a national record of 1:35.91.
Ireland features 2017 European Under 20 champion Gina Akpe Moses and hurdles specialist Molly Scott.
Poland starts as the favourite team, as it features former 400m hurdles champion Patryk Dobek, who won the 800m European Indoor gold medal in Torun, and European Indoor silver medallist and Olympic finalist Joanna Jozwik.
Kenya will be represented by world 800m bronze medallist Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot and Emily Tuei, who ran a career best of 1:58.04 in the 800m.
Mixed shuttle hurdles:
The shuttle hurdles features two men and two women on each team.
The Polish team features 110m hurdles champion Artur Noga, European championships fourth placer Damian Czykier and Klaudia Wojtunik, who holds a 13.08 PB in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Germany could fight for a medal with a solid team featuring Erik Balnuweit, Gregor Traber and European finalist Rebecca Lobe.
The mixed shuttle hurdles race starts with the women running their standard 100m hurdles race from the finish-line towards the traditional start, but running an extra 10 metres at the end of their leg to account for the extra distance. They will change over to the first man on the team who will run the standard 110m back up the straight in the adjacent lane and then change over to the second woman, who in turn will change over the second man who will run the anchor leg.