Australia’s three relay teams nominated for the Olympics have a nervous wait until the international qualifying period closes on 2 July to see if they will get a start in London.
Of the three squads selected, only the men’s 4x400m appear to be in safe territory within the top 16 in the world in 12th place, while the men’s and women’s 4x100m sit perilously close to being bumped out of contention in 15th and 16th places respectively.
With both the African and European Championships giving nations from those continents both heat and finals opportunities just prior to the close of qualification, and with numerous attempts available at European grand prix meets, the sprint relays are far from being assured starts in London.
Eight athletes (Hayley Butler, Jessica Knox and Charlotte van Veenendaal in the women, joining Sally Pearson and Melissa Breen; and Anthony Alozie, Tim Leathart, Andrew McCabe, Isaac Ntiamoah and Josh Ross) have been named specifically for the 4x100m relays, but will have to rely on other nations not surpassing Australia’s qualifying marks in order to gain Olympic berths.
The IAAF base qualification on the aggregate of the two best times by a nation in the qualifying period. At 77.53 for the men’s 4x100m, it will be of importance that the next best placed nations (South Africa – 77.80; and Ghana – 77.88) do not both improve on that mark. Presently, it appears to be unlikely, although both achieving singular runs of 38.80 (South Africa) and 38.58 (Ghana) would bump Australia out of the top 16.
For the women’s 4x100m, the threat is more imminent as they teeter in the final qualifying position. Last week the Bahamas leapfrogged them and Poland, a nation with a rich relay running heritage, is only eight-hundredths of claiming the final spot. The Polish squad has raced five times in the last three weeks, and with a solid squad that has season’s bests of 11.54, 11.57, 11.63 and 11.65, there is the serious potential that they could snatch the final qualifying spot away from Australia.