Lyles, Jacobs help USA, Italy qualify for Paris Olympic relays

athletics05 May 2024 05:00| © AFP
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Noah Lyles © Gallo Images

World sprint champion Noah Lyles and reigning Olympic 100m gold medallist Marcell Jacobs on Saturday helped the United States and Italy qualify for the 4x100m relays at the Paris Olympics.

Drawn in the same heat at the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Lyles anchored the US quartet also including Courtney Lindsey, Kenneth Bednarek and Kyree King to victory in 37.49 seconds.

Jacobs ran the second leg for the Italians, the defending world relay and Olympic champions coming in just 0.65sec behind the Americans in a high-octane session featuring a plethora of track stars.

Also qualifying for Paris and a place in Sunday's final were Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse's Canada, Japan, Italy, China, France, Britain and Jamaica.

"In Oregon (when the US won world silver), I was on the second leg, that's what I did in high school a lot. It was all right, but it's nowhere near as fun as running across the line and putting the USA front and centre," Lyles said.

"I can't wait until the night for the moment when we cross the line first," the American added in response to the Italian team saying they had a good chance to have the edge on the Americans in Paris.

Jacobs was left more than pleased with his leg.

"I got the baton and had the Liberian in front of me, he was my point and I passed him. The second exchange was very quick and good," he said.

"We wanted to get into first two without too much drama and we did it. We're confirming the strength of our squad."

Olympic 200m bronze medallist Gabby Thomas led the US women's quartet to a solid victory in 42.21sec in their heat of the 4x100m.

"We came together and made it happen in such a short time. Tomorrow, I believe we will do better and can be faster," said Thomas.

But Jamaica, without world and Olympic gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah, had a disaster, coming in only fifth in their heat won by Poland.

Also booking their spots in Paris were Britain, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and France.


There was a heady carnival atmosphere at the Thomas A.Robinson National Stadium featuring dancers, deafening drums and brass band, and a scintillating jazz trumpet interpretation of the national anthem.

The first of two evenings of action kicked off in perfect style as Olympic 400m champions and local heroes Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner took to the track in the opening heat in the mixed 4x400m relay.

The Bahamas had the lead through to the anchor leg, but Shania Adderley flagged badly under pressure from the Netherlands' Femke Bol, the recently crowned world indoor 400m champion and reigning world 400m hurdles gold medallist.

Bol slowly but surely reeled Adderley in and powered through for a Dutch victory in 3:12.16.

"We knew we had to be strong, we had the Bahamas in the mix," said Bol, who was joined by Isayah Boers, Lieke Klaver and Isaya Klein Ikkink.

"We'll be even faster tomorrow."

The Bahamas eventually finished fourth as reigning world 400m champion Marileidy Paulino ran a strong anchor leg to ensure the Dominican Republic grabbed second spot for a place in Sunday's final and an automatic place in the Olympics.

Also advancing as the two top finishers in the three other heats were the United States, Ireland, Belgium, Poland, Nigeria and France.

The Bahamas will have a second opportunity to qualify for the Paris Games in an additional round on Sunday, when the top two teams in each heat will also book their ticket to the French capital.

Teams in Sunday's finals will also be vying for prize money, with $40 000 to be awarded to the winners, while the eighth-placed team take away $2 000.

Rhasidat Adeleke had a night to remember, running brilliantly in the mixed relay as well as the women's 4x400m as Ireland qualified in both as heat winners.

Other countries qualifying in the women's 4x400m comprised Britain, Italy, Poland, Canada, France, the United States and Norway.

The men's 4x400m saw Botswana, with in-form sprinter Letsile Tebogo racing, and South Africa, with world 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk on the third leg, both qualify for the Olympics.

Belgium, Japan, Germany, Italy, Nigeria and Britain all also went through.