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Anyone who has followed this blog will know I love relays. Why? Because anything goes.
The 4x100m at the 2010 European Athletics Championships in Barcelona was no exception.
It was a shame to not see Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Finals as a UK-France match up would have soared the ratings. Like the Americans, I think the former needs to regroup and execute the task at hand.. no easy feat, mind you with thousands of screaming fans and 7 other runners yelling STICK or UP all at the same time.
Speaking of France, once upon a time, France held the WR in the 4×100m Relay before the Americans dominated the event. That is, until Jamaica came along.
It was also good to see Italy setting a new National Record in the process. They did everything right but just could not hold off the late charge by France’s Martial Mbandjock.
Push Pass or Upsweep?
Personally, I don’t care what relay passing technique you use, whether it’s the Push Pass or Upsweep pass. As long as both runners (incoming and outgoing) are near full speed, and you can maximize the free distance with outstretched arms, then either one will work. France is known for keeping the Upsweep pass, despite the rest of the world using the Push Pass.
2nd and 3rd are the Longest Legs
Despite everyone saying the 2nd leg is the longest leg, it’s actually the 2nd AND 3rd legs are the longest legs. They also have to deal with 2 baton exchanges whereas the 1st leg and Anchor only have to deal with one exchange. Usually the 3rd leg is a 200m specialist who can run a good turn and can run up to 140 meters when you include the exchange zones.
Another thing to watch out for is the 2nd leg and Anchor receive the baton from the left. It doesn’t mean you have to be left handed, but it helps to have good dexterity with the left hand. This is the reason why Usain Bolt runs the 3rd leg. Despite his long strides and top end speed and great speed endurance, he still runs 3rd behind Asafa Powell. That shows great unselfishness and teamwork.
Speaking of unselfishness, double Gold medalist of the games Christophe Lemaitre could have run Anchor with his amazing ability to close in the final 20 meters, but with his strength from the 200 meters, he runs the second leg. This is after 6 races in 4 days, and not part of the preliminary relay round.
It’s also rare, but not advised, to see the anchor leg switch hands on the baton because they feel more comfortable running with it in their right hand. Carl Lewis was famous for that. As long as you don’t drop it…
Men’s 4x100m at the 2010 European Athletics Championships
Once you qualify for the finals, my only advice, as always, is just get the stick around. Anything goes!
Here is the video on YouTube