By Lincoln Shryack

There’s no Usain Bolt, but the inaugural IAAF World Relays still promise to be exciting. The event, which takes place May 24-25 in Nassau, Bahamas, will not feature the world’s fastest man, however it will mark the return of Yohan Blake. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist in both the 100-meters and 200-meters had been recovering from a hamstring injury that limited his 2013 season and caused him to miss the World Championships. Blake headlines the Jamaican 4x100 and 4x200 teams, which will also include the likes of Warren Weir and Nesta Carter. The Jamaicans should be favored to win both events, even without Bolt. The American men’s sprint squads will be highlighted by Marvin Bracy and Walter Dix, competing in the 4x100 and 4x200, respectively. The Americans figure to be the biggest threat to Jamaica in each event.

Outside of the USA vs. The World relay competition held annually at the Penn Relays, middle distance relays are rarely held on the international stage. With the opportunity of fast times and stiff competition, world records may be in danger in the 4x800 and 4x1500 in Nassau for both the men and women. The Kenyan teams headline both events, with Asbel Kiprop leading the 4x1500-meters team that is favored over the likes of Ethiopia and the United States. Kiprop was the focus of many following his victory at Doha where he ran a remarkable 3:29.18, followed closely by his teammate Silas Kiplagat who crossed in 3:29.70. A world record is attainable with both men in such good early season form.

For the United States, the men’s 4x1500-meters and the women’s 4x800-meters team will provide the best opportunity for the Americans to reach the podium in the middle distance events. Both Will Leer and Leo Manzano have shown strong early season form, with Leer winning the Wanamaker Mile in February and Manzano winning the USA Road Mile Championship in April.

The USA women’s 4x800 team will feature Brenda Martinez and Chanelle Price, as well as Ajee Wilson and Morgan Uceny. Martinez won the bronze in Moscow in the 800-meters, while Price is the indoor World Champion, surprising many with her victory in Poland in March. The American record of 8:04.31 will need to be broken if Team USA has any podium aspirations.