As long as they can avoid the tragic fate of many a past U.S. men’s relay teams, the Americans should win 4x100m gold in Doha this October. Of course, that’s not at all a guarantee with Team USA registering a slew of DQs over the years, but a much weaker Jamaican squad without Usain Bolt has the Americans in position to finally regain the top global spot in the 4x1 for the first time since 2007.
Team USA’s perceived edge comes not only from having both the best 100m and 200m runners in the world right now, Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles, respectively, but also with the potential additions of new pro Grant Holloway and 400m star Michael Norman, the latter of which ran the 200m world lead of 19.70 on June 6 in his upset of Lyles. Even with this quartet never having run on the same relay, it’s difficult to imagine a team composed of the three best sprinters in the world right now— Coleman, Lyles and Norman— plus the top high hurdler, Holloway, being anything short of incredible together.
Good team, good order. RT @jbyrnes1: @AtoBoldon Talk me out of the following 4x1 quartet for the 2020 Olympics:@__coleman @Mike_Norman22 @Flaamingoo_ @LylesNoah— Ato Boldon (@AtoBoldon) June 8, 2019
…unless @justingatlin is still in his prime of course - would hate to offend the ol’ greybeard.
Of course, this fab four coming together in the 4x100m may not even get off the ground this year. Norman will be called upon in the 4x400m and possibly the brand new mixed 4x400m as well, and adding another relay to his World Champs schedule would be a lot if so. Holloway too seems like a big “if” for the 4x100m considering he’s a hurdler first and foremost. Don’t forget, though, Holloway did run a leg on Florida’s 37.97 collegiate record at NCAAs.
There’s also the non-zero factor of Coleman and Lyles’ beef preventing them from competing on the same relay. One would imagine cooler heads would prevail with a gold medal on the line, but the fact remains that these two do not like each other.
Such a team would also represent a departure from the veteran-laden squad that the Americans have enlisted in championship relays of recent history. Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers are each certainly past the primes of their careers at 37 and 34, respectively, but both men continue to run at a high level and have together competed on the last four championship relay teams.
Even with DQs and silver medal finishes dotting this era of the Red, White and Blue men’s 4x1s, leaving one or both of these experienced men off the team could be unwise come October. With still over three months to go until Doha, the elder statesmen of U.S. sprinting have shown signs of their old selves with Rodgers and Gatlin running 10.00 and 10.01 in Finland last week. There’s plenty of time for these two to be running at a world-class level by the end of 2019. They each ran at World Relays last month in Japan.
The six names above don’t even come close to a full picture of the talented corps that the Americans could use to build their relay pool in 2019. 9.87 man Ronnie Baker has been MIA in 2019, but he ran a quick 38.08 4x1 with Coleman, Gatlin and Rodgers last spring and represents a more traditional option compared to Norman and Holloway should he get up to speed this season.
There’s also former Oregon star Cravon Gillespie, who capped a huge senior year for the Ducks with an incredible 9.93/19.93 double at NCAAs. The 22-year-old improved dramatically this season and figures to have an outside shot at a 100m medal if he continues his upward trajectory through the summer. Gillespie ran second on Oregon’s sixth-place NCAA 4x100m.
Several wildcards could also factor into the mix. Jaylen Bacon ran on the silver-medal squad in 2017 and has a 9.97 100m PB from 2018, but the 22-year-old has been a shell of himself so far this season. Isiah Young was another World Relays participant who has several sub-10s to his credit. The 29-year-old’s name isn’t nearly as flashy as Lyles or Norman, but Young is a World Championship finalist with good experience. Cameron Burrell and Christopher Belcher are former NCAA stars who also competed at World Relays and will have a shot to make the Doha squad as well.
Who do you think should represent Team USA this fall in the men’s 4x100m? Make your picks below: