International stars to compete in sprint relays at USA vs. The World
Some of the biggest names in sprinting – including Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin, John Capel, Usain Bolt and Debbie Ferguson – will compete in the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays Saturday at USA vs. The World, Presented by Verizon, at the 110th running of the Penn Relays.
The meet will be broadcast live on Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.
Nearly 150 athletes from 10 countries around the globe will compete at this year’s USA vs. The World, held annually at the Penn Relays since 2000 and featuring men’s and women’s 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays. Team USA swept all six relay races – the men’s and women’s 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 – at the 2003 edition of USA vs. The World, but the competition has gotten stronger in 2004 as national teams around the world seek to qualify for the Olympic Games in Athens.
The Nike men’s 4x100m relay and Visa men’s 4x200m relay promise star-studded competition, as nearly every top U.S. sprinter will compete, while the Verizon women’s 4x100 and the Nike women’s 4x200 look to be some of the most closely contested relays as Team USA’s fastest women take on powerful teams from the Caribbean and Russia. Team USA will enter two teams each – USA Red and USA Blue – in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x200m relays at USA vs. The World.
The Team USA men’s relay pools read like a who’s who of American sprinting as USA Track & Field’s National Relay Program – in which all top athletes compete in relays around the country and around the world during the season, with the goal of reaping Olympic gold – shifts into high gear in 2004. The Team USA sprint relay pools for USA vs. The World include: 2003 world indoor 60m champion Justin Gatlin; 2003 world outdoor 200m and 4x100m gold medalist John Capel; 2003 world outdoor 4x100m gold-medal anchor J.J. Johnson; 2003 world outdoor 200m silver medalist and 4x100m gold medalist Darvis Patton; 2002 U.S. outdoor 100m champion and 2001 world outdoor bronze medalist Bernard Williams; 2000 Olympic and 2003 world outdoor 110m hurdles silver medalist Terrence Trammell; 2002 U.S. outdoor 200m champion, 2001 world indoor 200m champion and 2004 U.S. indoor 60m champ Shawn Crawford; 2000 Olympic relay gold medalist Jon Drummond; 2002 World Cup 4x100 gold medalist Coby Miller; 2000 Olympic 4x100m gold medalist Ken Brokenburr; 2001 World University Games 100m gold medalist Marcus Brunson; 2001 world outdoor 4x100m gold medalist Mickey Grimes; 2001 world indoor 60m gold medalist Tim Harden, and 1999 U.S. junior champion Leonard Scott.
In the Nike men’s 4x100, the countries that went 1-2 at the 2003 World Outdoor Championships will again go head-to head as the United States takes on Great Britain. Also competing will be Canada, Jamaica, Germany, the Bahamas, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The British are coming with Mark Lewis-Francis, the world junior record holder in the indoor 60 meters and the 2000 world junior champion at 100 meters, and Darren Campbell, fourth in the 200m at 2003 world outdoors. Also highlighting the competition in the sprint relays is Usain Bolt, the 17-year-old sensation from Jamaica who less than two weeks ago broke the world junior record in the 200 meters with his time of 19.93 seconds.
American’s finest sprinters will star in the women’s relays as well, as Team USA and Team Jamaica rekindle the feud on the track that saw them split victories in 2002. Added to the mix of countries competing in the men’s relays is a potent group from the Bahamas, winners of the 2000 Olympic gold medal.
Five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones leads the charge for the U.S. women. Returning to competition in 2004 for the first time since having her first child last summer, Jones – a two-time world 100m champion and the 2001 200m gold medalist - is by no means alone in the Team USA pools. Two of her three teammates from the 4x100m relay team that owns the American record – 1999 world outdoor 200m gold medalist Inger Miller and 2001 U.S. 100m champion Chryste Gaines – are in the pools for both the 4x100 and 4x200m relays as well. Also providing panache are American 200m junior record holder Allyson Felix, 2004 U.S. indoor 200m champion Crystal Cox, and 2000 Olympic 4x400m gold medalist LaTasha Colander.
Half of the Bahamas’ Olympic gold-medal winning women’s 4x100m relay team will be on hand at USA vs. the World. Gold-medal anchor Debbie Ferguson is the 2002 Commonwealth Games 100 and 200m gold medalist; she will be joined at Penn by gold-medal lead-off runner Savatheda Fynes, the 1997 NCAA 100 and 200m champion.
Jamaica will also offer a stern challenge. Their relay pool includes 2000 Olympic 100m bronze medalist Tayna Lawrence; Aleen Bailey, the 7th-place finisher at 100m at 2003 world outdoors; and Brigitte Foster, the 2003 world outdoor 100m hurdles silver medalist.
Natalya Nazarova, the 2004 world indoor gold medalist at 400m (50.19 CR) will lead Russia – which placed third in the 4x100m at 2003 world outdoors – in the Nike women’s 4x200m relay.
Highlights of the 4x400m relay pools will be released Thursday. Full relay pools for all events will be announced Friday. Final lineups will be announced