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Lyles, Bol and Jacobs lead the world relays with Olympic places at stake

Double world individual sprint champion Noah Lyles heads a host of track stars who will compete in the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas at the weekend, with Olympic qualification on the line.

Lyles captured a third world gold in Budapest last year after leading the American team to victory in the 4x100m relay.

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

Lyles claimed a windy 9.96 second victory in the 100 meters in Bermuda on Monday, Davis won the women’s short sprint in 11.04, and both will look to lead their teams smoothly to competition at the Paris Olympics in this summer.

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

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

Jacobs heads an Italian quartet that should remain unchanged from the last World Cup lineup, with Roberto Rigali and Olympic champions Lorenzo Patta and Filippo Tortu.

Recently crowned World Indoor bronze medalist Ackeem Blake has been named in Jamaica’s men’s team, but World and Olympic gold medalists Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah are not on the women’s roster. .

Bol leads a strong Dutch quartet

Bol leads an incredibly strong Dutch women’s 4x400m team that also features 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 medalists Marco Arop of Canada and Mary Moraa of Kenya, and Botswana sprint star Letsile Tebogo, a double surprise world medalist from Budapest.

The two-day program will include five relay events: women’s 4x100m and 4x400m, men’s 4x100m and 4x400m, and a mixed 4x400m with two men and two women. One team per nation may 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 the lists of the best during the qualification period (December 31, 2022 to June 30, 2024).

Olympic berths are at stake in two days of action in the Bahamas. On day one, the top two teams from each heat will advance to the final on day two, while ensuring qualification for the Paris Games.

In the finals on the second day, teams will compete for prize money and earn qualifying positions in the Olympic lane.

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

Prize money is also at stake: $40,000 will be distributed to the winners, while the eighth-place team will take home $2,000.

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

The event made its debut in the capital of the Bahamas in 2014 and had two more editions there until reaching the Japanese city of Yokohama in 2018 and then Silesia, Poland, in 2021.

Miller-Uibo, a 400m gold medalist at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, is happy the relays are back home.

“It’s wonderful to compete here because there is no other feeling than hearing your audience cheering you on. It makes you want to do 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 hope we can qualify the Bahamas for the Olympic Games.”