Several teams that finished in the top two positions at the World Athletics Relays were doubly happy. Their success qualified them for the finals the following day and a place at the Olympic Games in Paris later in the year.

The USA qualified in almost all five events, except for one where they had crossed the finish line first but got disqualified for an infringement of disrupting the order of baton exchange in the men’s 4x400m. They proceeded to the finals in the mixed relay, men’s and women’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m relay. Their highlight was the men’s 4x100m relay team anchored by Noah Lyles, as they ran a world-leading 37.49 to win their heat.

Noah Lyles anchored the US team to the Men’s 4x100m relay, photo by Deji Ogeyingbo

France, where the Olympic Games will take place in August, was the other nation with four teams qualifying for the finals and for the Olympics, coincidentally in the same events as the USA.

Polish athletes were also impressive in the mixed relay and the women’s 4x100m and 4x400m races, where they secured their places for Paris and the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium finals.

A day with exciting battles, close finishes, fast times, and no false starts is excellent for sprints. It was a successful first day of the World Relays.

However, it could have been a better start for the host nation, the Bahamas. In their first race of the evening, they failed to qualify for the Olympics after leading up to almost the last 200m before Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who ran 49.54 for her leg, overtook Shania Adderley, who ran 53.69 and went for the win. Marileidy Paulino ran an impressive 48.93 to get the Dominican Republic into the top two Olympic qualification spots.

It would seem like a new championship record would be set in each heat, as the US came to win the second heat in 3:11.52 after battling it out with Nigeria, eventually securing their place for the Olympics in 3:13.79.

Ireland celebrates the Mixed 4x400m relay, photo by Deji Ogeyingbo

Ireland won one of the most crowded races in a new national record of 3:12.50. With 300 m to go, four nations appeared to be in contention. Belgium held off Great Britain on the home stretch to finish second in 3:13.18.

Poland won the last heat in 3:13.53, and France, a country hosting the rest of the world at the Olympic Games, secured their spot in second place.

Coincidentally, Bahamas was in 4th place again in the women’s 4x100m relays, just as in the mixed relays, and then they were 6th in the men’s 4x100m relays.

Great Britain and Ireland ran in a class of their own in the women’s 4 x 400m, finishing second and first, respectively.

Regarding saving the best for last, Botswana and South Africa represented the African continent well in the last heat of the last event of the evening. They were the only ones to run under 3:00.00 in the men’s 4x400m relays, which they ran 2:59.73 and 2:59.76, respectively.

France had a pressure-filled weekend in the Bahamas, photo by Deji Ogeyingbo

The second day will offer another chance for teams that didn’t qualify for the Olympics to try one more time and for those who made it to the finals to compete for medals.

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