Kenyan, Jamaican and US athletes will seek to break long-standing world records next weekend (May 24-25) at the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays in Nassau, capital of the Bahamas.
A total prize fund of $1.4 million (£830,000/€1 million) has attracted about 600 of the world's leading athletes to the newly re-built Thomas Robinson stadium, with $50,000 (£30,000/€37,000) bonuses on offer for new best marks in a range of relays from 100 metres to 1,500m.
Kenya's women set a new world best of 17 minutes 05.72 seconds at last month's national trials in Nairobi and have vowed to lower that mark in the Caribbean, while Kenya's men, including double world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, are seeking to lower the 4x1,500m world record of 14min 36.23sec set by their fellow countrymen in Brussels five years ago.
Meanwhile, Jamaica's sprinters, who will include 2011 world 100m champion Yohan Blake, have announced that they will be targeting the world record in the men's 4x200m in Nassau, where they will most likely be pushed all the way by a strong US quartet, including world bronze medallist Curtis Mitchell.
The Kenyan women's hopes rest on a strong squad of five in the 4x1,500m, which includes three of the women who set the current world best mark, Mercy Cherono, Irene Jelagat and Ann Karindi Mwangi.
They are supplemented with the talents of Faith Kipyegon and Hellen Obiri.
"I would be delighted to win another gold medal for my country since competing for my nation at every opportunity is my motivation," Kiprop, whose colleagues will include Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba, said.
"With the squad we have, then a world record in the [4x1,500m] relay is possible since we have all run under 3:32.
"We are very determined to do well in the categories we have entered for,"
Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat said the nation wants to "show the world that Kenyans are not only a force in the middle and long distance but also relays competitions".
US teams won both 400m relays at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot two months ago, the women setting a North American indoor record of 3:24.83 and the men setting a world indoor record of 3:02.13.
They will be among the favourites to win in the Bahamian capital, but they will meet with strong opposition in both the women's and the men's events.
At last year's IAAF World Championships in Moscow, host nation Russia beat the US women's team and brought their run of world 4x400m titles to an end.
And at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the men's US 4x400m team was overhauled by the Bahamas in a memorable race.
Of the world records in existence for relay events, the women's 4x800m has stood for the longest - set by the Soviet Union in 1984, the time of 7:50.17 roughly translates to 1:57.54 per leg.
Read the Big Read on the forthcoming IAAF World Relays here.
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August 2012: IAAF creates new World Relays competition