The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Time to Break the Men’s 4×1 World Record…

May 7th, 2022
1:07 pm PDT

Yes, you read that right. I, a citizen of the United States, am talking about breaking the 4×1 record. Of course, given our men’s international record in the event since the mid 90’s. I’m sure many of you are either chuckling, or laughing out loud. I mean, just last year, we failed to make the Olympic final. In spite of actually finishing the race. A first for the US – finishing a heat and not advancing. Add that to the numerous dropped batons and disqualifications, and I completely understand the laughter.

However, to quote an ancient Persian phrase, “this too shall pass”! And it’s my belief that this “passing” will take place this year in a big way. Pun intended. As a matter of fact, it began in 2019, when the US foursome of Coleman, Gatlin, Rogers, and Lyles destroyed the field in 37.10! Making last year a minor blip. As it’s my belief that 2022 will mark a continuance of the resurgence that was started in 2019.

Why am I so sure? Well, let’s start with the fact that the majority of individuals that dominated the failed squads are gone. No disrespect to any of them mind you. It just means we get to start over. 2019 was the beginning of this “transformation”. Half the squad was “old” – Gatlin & Rogers. Half the squad was “new” – Coleman & Lyles. Together they set a new AR. This time around, the old will be gone. Providing the opportunity for a squad of “youngsters” to take the track and, as a friend of mine and I say – “make it do what it do”!

Of course here in the US we have to wait until the National Championships are held to know who the team will be. A slight problem that gives the rest of the world a decided advantage. Given the parameters of our selection process however, it is somewhat possible to select the team in advance. Because, without all of the specific verbiage involved, members of the 100/200 teams make up the “pool”. Along with selections from anyone else that makes the team. A little more complicated than that, because there are numerical limitations involved. That’s enough to select a squad however, because barring injury and bad races we have a pretty good idea of who the top individuals “should” be. So, using that premise, here is the team that I think will not only blow the rest of the world away, but also take down the current WR of 36.84! My team.

Lead Off – I’ll stick with 2019’s lead of Christian Coleman. He is clearly the best opener in the world. AND he’s guaranteed to be in Eugene as he’s the defending 100 meter champion. He just missed defending his indoor 60 title by a literal hair. And has a great chance of being right there at the finish of the 100 in Eugene. There is no one remotely close to him in this position outside the US. Maybe in the history of the sport. Coleman is that good.

Backstretch – Fred Kerley. First of all, stopping him from making either the 100 or 200 squad may take an act of God. And THAT is all you need to know about Fred. He’s as competitive as there is, and he runs best on the straight. Fred is the epitome of believing in one’s self. And what Fred believes is that he is the fastest thing on two legs. A decent pass here and the race could already by over. Fred will tell you so himself!

Turn – Erriyon Knighton. Since 2019 I’ve placed several individuals here, because it was the weakest leg in Doha. And I figure that here is where we can make the biggest advance on the WR. Everyone I would’ve put here would work. But after watching Knighton’s 19.49, he became the clear choice. Not because he ran 19.49, but because of the way he ran the turn! He destroyed that turn. The way Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake used to do it – and Calvin Smith and Dennis Mitchell before them. There is no one, not in a US uniform, that has a shot to keep up here. And the American that can keep him off the team, can have this spot!

Anchor – Noah Lyles. Defending World 200 champion and, in my humble opinion, still the best top end in the business. He will close this out in style – 8.77 in Doha! And should do so running relaxed and free. Because in addition to the speed that this group brings to the table. They are all highly focused athletes that I believe will get ‘er done!

What do I think they can run? With good exchanges I’m going to put 36.65 out there. Totally doable in my opinion. If they manage to get video game exchanges, 36.40 – a full second better than the Carl Lewis anchored relay of 1992! One bobble, one weak exchange, and they slip to 36.90. Two bobbles, back to 37.20. Two poor exchanges and we let the rest of the world back into the race!

Now, I know that a lot of guys got left off of this team. Unfortunately we are deeper than we’ve ever been in the sprints in the US. So deep that we could put together a team that could potentially medal, with guys that were left off the squad. Here are my leading “substitutes” and why they aren’t in the top four.

Trayvon Bromell. A great starter, who, in my opinion, needs Coleman to get injured and be unable to compete. to get a spot on the starting four.

Michael Norman. I could see Norman on either leg 2/3. He’s a great turn runner who also runs a solid straight. And lots of experience, having run the relay in high school, college, and internationally as a junior. Frankly he was my choice for the third leg until Knighton showed what he could do.

Kenny Bednarek. Same story for Kenny. Either 2/3, but can’t see him replacing Kerley or Knighton if everyone makes the team. A case of being as good as he is at the wrong time in history.

Grant Holloway. I know that many are screaming for Grant @flamingo to run the turn. I get it. He looks good when he does. Be it on Florida’s CR 37.97, or Adidas’ recent 38.09. But ahead of Knighton? I don’t think so.

I really don’t see anyone else in the conversation. That includes Marvin Bracy, Ronnie Baker, and Micah Williams. Great sprinters. But that list ahead of them is, well, formidable! Like I said regarding Bednarek, for a lot of sprinters it’s a tough time in history to be good. One must be great!

That’s my team and potential subs. Team USA should be made of some configuration of the 11 individuals named above. Of course, they still have to get the stick around. I believe we’re ready!

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