Two events added to World Relays
Leading international athletes have welcomed the addition of two exciting new events to the programme for the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019.
A mixed 2x2x400m relay and mixed shuttle hurdles relay have been added to the programme of events. Joining the men's and women's 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m and the mixed 4x400m, it means there will now be three men's events, three women's events and three mixed events being contested on the weekend of 11-12 May.
The mixed shuttle hurdles event is a completely new addition to the World Relays programme. Usually held as a single-sex race, the event in Yokohama will feature two men and two women on each team.
The men will run 110m hurdles in one direction and will then hand over to the first woman on the team, who will run back up the straight to hand over to the second man, and so on. To account for the extra distance, women will run out an extra 10 metres at the end of their leg.
"I'm excited that the hurdles can be part of a relay," said world 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson. "I always enjoy participating in the traditional relays and now that my own event can be incorporated into a team event, it makes the World Relays even more enticing!
Still on the mend
"I'm still on the comeback trail from my Achilles injury that ruled me out of the Commonwealth Games last year and so I haven't decided when I'll make my return yet," added the 2012 Olympic champion. "It all depends on what the body decides. If I can make the IAAF World Relays a part of my pre-World Championships schedule, I'll be one excited athlete - especially now that the hurdles is featuring!"
The mixed 2x2x400m, a form of a endurance relay event, requires both members of the team to run two 400m legs of a relay. As with the mixed 4x400m, each team can choose to start with a man or the woman. The athletes then take it in turns to run their two legs of the relay.
Inspired by a mixed-relay event introduced to biathlon in recent years, the 2x2x400m replaces the 4x800m relay, which proved to have limited appeal at previous editions of the World Relays.
USA's world indoor finalist Raevyn Rogers feels it will be an attractive prospect for both 400m and 800m runners.
"This relay will really highlight the talent of being a middle-distance runner," she said. "Being a mixed relay makes it more exciting because, essentially, you'll have the best runner in each event, whether it's a top female or male 800m runner or 400m runner."
IAAF President Sebastian Coe is excited to see how the new events will unfold in Yokohama.
"The IAAF World Relays is our youngest World Athletics Series event, and it was designed to be fun for our athletes and fans, so it's the perfect place to try new formats," said Coe. "I've been championing innovation in our sport since I took the reins, so it's great to see the addition of a dynamic relay that will showcase our sprint hurdlers and I'll be fascinated to see how the mixed 2x2x400m relay unfolds as a new endurance event that has never been tried before in athletics. I'm sure that both will contribute to the youthful, energetic atmosphere of the event, which we're confident will be a resounding success in our new host city, Yokohama, in May."