Lyles, Bol, Jacobs headline world relays with Olympic places up for grabs

athletics03 May 2024 12:39| © AFP
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Noah Lyles © Gallo Images

Double world individual sprint champion Noah Lyles heads up a raft of top track stars who will compete in the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas on the weekend, with Olympic qualification up for grabs.

Lyles added a third world gold in Budapest last year after anchoring the US team to victory in the 4x100m relay.

He will be joined in the Caribbean by Olympic 200m silver medallist Kenny Bednarek and in-form Courtney Lindsey, while four women who helped USA to gold in the 4x100m in the Hungarian capital will also be present: Gabby Thomas, Tamari Davis, Tamara Clark and Melissa Jefferson.

Lyles posted a wind-aided 9.96sec 100m victory in Bermuda on Monday, Davis winning the women's short sprint in 11.04, and both will be seeking to guide their teams smoothly into competition at this summer's Paris Olympics.

Some 893 athletes from 54 countries will descend on the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau over the weekend.

Among them several other multiple global winners including Dutch 400m hurdler Femke Bol, Italy's Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs and a trio of Bahamian stars in the form of Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion Steven Gardiner and world indoor 60m hurdles gold medallist Devynne Charlton.

Jacobs heads up an Italian quartet that should remain unchanged from the last worlds line-up, featuring Roberto Rigali and Olympic champions Lorenzo Patta and Filippo Tortu.

Recently-crowned world indoor bronze medallist Ackeem Blake has been included in the Jamaican men's team, but world and Olympic gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah are all missing from the women's roster.


Bol leads an incredibly strong Dutch women's 4x400m team also featuring world champions Cathelijn Peeters and Lieke Klaver.

Other big names present include South African 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk, reigning world 800m gold medallists Marco Arop of Canada and Mary Moraa of Kenya, and Botswana's sprint star Letsile Tebogo, a surprise double world medallist from Budapest.

The two-day programme will feature five relay events: the women's 4x100m and 4x400m, the men's 4x100m and 4x400m, and a mixed 4x400m featuring two men and two women. One team per nation can compete in each event.

The top 14 teams in each event will automatically qualify for places at the Paris Olympics. The remaining two places in each discipline will be awarded based on top lists during the qualification period (December 31, 2022-June 30, 2024).

Olympic places are up for grabs on both days of action in the Bahamas. On the first day, the top two teams in each heat will advance to the final on day two, while also securing their qualification for the Paris Games.

In the finals on day two, teams will compete for prize money and obtain Olympic lane seeding positions.

All other teams will compete on day two in the additional round where the top two teams in each heat will also qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Also up for grabs is prize money, with $40 000 to be awarded to the winners, while the eighth-placed team take away $2 000.

The 2024 Relays are the sixth edition of the World Athletics competition, which return to Nassau for the first time since 2017.

The event made its debut in the Bahamian capital in 2014 and saw two more editions there until it went to the Japanese city of Yokohama in 2018 and then Silesia, Poland, in 2021.

Miller-Uibo, the 400m gold medallist from Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, is happy the relays are back on home turf.

"It's wonderful competing here because there's no other feeling like hearing your home crowd cheer you on. It makes you want to bring your best," the Bahamian said of the electric atmosphere at the national stadium.

"I think we have an amazing team for the mixed relay and I'm hoping we can qualify the Bahamas for the Olympic Games."