The U.S. dominated the opening night of the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan, highlighted by winning both finals in unusual mixed-gender events.
University of Oregon wide receiver turned Olympian Devon Allen anchored the shuttle hurdles relay, where two runners of each gender cover 110 meters per country. Each relay exchange (sans baton) is made at the opposite end of the track.
Allen received a lead from Christina Clemons, Freddie Crittenden and Sharika Nelvis, and the Americans won a two-team final over Japan by .63 of a second in 54.96. Jamaica withdrew before the final due to an injury, and Australia false-started out of the final.
Donavan Brazier and Ce’Aira Brown combined to win the 2x2x400m, essentially a 4x400m but with only two runners (one of each gender). Kenya had the early edge because it led off with its male runner, while Brown was the U.S.’ leadoff.
Brazier, the U.S. indoor 800m record holder, made up a 7.8-second deficit on Kenya’s female runner on the anchor split to win in 3:36.92, holding off Australia by .69.
The U.S. also advanced in all of the relays that have Sunday finals — both 4x100m, both 4x400m and the mixed 4x400m, which makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Sunday’s race schedule and TV/stream schedule is here.
Justin Gatlin headlined a 4x100m preliminary squad that had the fourth-fastest time from Saturday’s heats. Anchor Cameron Burrell, the son of former world-record holder Leroy Burrell, had to slow up to receive the baton from Isiah Young before the end of the exchange zone.
Noah Lyles, the world’s fastest 200m sprinter over the last two years, is expected to join the 4x100m for Sunday’s final. Olympic silver medalist Japan failed to advance after placing third in its heat due to one of the most impressive baton handoffs in history (that would get it disqualified).
U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs anchored the women’s 4x100m preliminary heat squad that advanced in 42.51 seconds, .52 ahead of second qualifier Germany. World 100m champion Tori Bowie was expected to lead this quartet, but she withdrew before the meet.
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