4 × 100 metres relay
The 4 × 100 metres relay or sprint relay is an athletics track event run in lanes over one lap of the track with four runners completing 100 metres each. The first runners begin in the same stagger as for the individual 400 m race. A relay baton is carried by each runner and must be passed within a 20 m changeover box (usually marked by yellow lines) which extends 10 m on either side of each 100 m mark of the race. Another line is marked 10 m further back, marking the earliest point at which the outgoing runner may begin (giving up to 10 m of acceleration before entering the passing zone).
Transferring of the baton in this race is typically blind. The outgoing runner reaches a straight arm backwards when they enter the changeover box, or when the incoming runner makes a verbal signal. The outgoing runner does not look backwards, and it is the responsibility of the incoming runner to thrust the baton into the outstretched hand, and not let go until the outgoing runner takes hold of it. Runners on the first and third legs typically run on the inside of the lane with the baton in their right hand, while runners on the second and fourth legs take the baton in their left. Polished handovers can compensate for a lack of basic speed to some extent, and disqualification for dropping the baton or failing to transfer it within the box is common, even at the highest level.
The United States has historically dominated this event in the men's, having won 15 Olympic gold medals and 7 IAAF world championships. Carl Lewis ran the anchor leg on five U.S relay teams that broke the World Record from 1983–92, the first team to break 38 seconds.
The current men's world record stands at 36.84 as set by the Jamaican team at the 2012 London Olympic games on 11 August 2012. So far, the only team to break 37 seconds. The previous record was 37.04 seconds as set by the Jamaican team at the 2011 World Championships. The fastest electronically timed anchor leg run is 8.70 seconds by Asafa Powell in the 2008 Beijing Olympic final (and later matched by Usain Bolt in the 2012 London Olympic final). Bob Hayes was hand-timed as running between 8.5 and 8.9 seconds on a cinder track at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
In the women's event, the United States was considered by many[who?] to be a strong team after years of East German domination, but failed to make it to the finals in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. Evelyn Ashford ran on three consecutive Olympic gold medal winning teams 1984–92, and in 1984 final ran an anchor leg of 9.77 seconds, the fastest ever.
Olympic Games medalists
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Note: * Indicates athletes who ran in preliminary rounds and also received medals.
Note: Marion Jones was stripped of all her Olympic medals in 2000.
World Championships medalists
1 The United States team of Mickey Grimes, Bernard Williams, Dennis Mitchell and Tim Montgomery originally won the 2001 championship in a time of 37.96, but were disqualified after Tim Montgomery admitting to drug use in 2005 as a result of the BALCO scandal.
1 The United States team of Kelli White, Chryste Gaines, Inger Miller, and Marion Jones originally won the 2001 championship in a time of 41.71, but were disqualified as a result of Kelli White admitting to steroid use in 2004.
- Men's 4 x 100 metres relay world record progression
- Women's 4 x 100 metres relay world record progression
- Italy national relays team at the international athletics championships
- All-time men's best 4x100m relay
- Athletics at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games: Women's 4x100 metres Relay Olympics at SportsReference.com, accessed 21 Aug 2008