The World and Olympic 4×400 meter relay record was tied at 2:56.16 set in the 1968 & 1988 Olympic finals.
The 1992 USA Olympic Trials were controversial enough with the appearance of Butch Reynolds and the IAAF “tainted” rule, thus the 400m was delayed several days. He was “named” to the relay pool, but was not selected to race.
At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Danny Everett’s Achilles problems prevented him from advancing past the semi-finals.
Enter Michael Johnson<, stage left. Or third leg, that is. He was the 200m favorite (failed to advance to the finals due to food poisoning) and was selected for the 4x400m relay, even though he didn't run the individual 400 meters at the Trials. This would set a precedence in future relay selections. The order was even more controversial. Who should run anchor, usually reserved for the individual 400 meters Gold medalist? Quincy Watts? He ended up running 2nd, with Andre Valmon leading off. MJ was 3rd, and his hand-off from Quincy was almost dropped! Plus, MJ almost tripped on the inside rail and stumbles at the 220 meter mark. Steve Lewis ended up running anchor. The result? 2:55.74, and new World Record without Butch Reynolds.