14 Teams Secure Paris Olympic Berths In Paradise: World Relays Takeaways

By Paul Hof-Mahoney

May 8, 2024


The World Athletics Relays were held this past weekend in Nassau and they did not disappoint. Featuring only five relays this year, each event saw a new world lead, highlighted by the U.S. men’s 4x100m team (even without a few of the nation’s biggest names) running the T-12th fastest time ever in 37.40.

With Paris on the horizon in August, the primary function of this meet was to qualify relay teams for the Olympics (but the $40,000 prize for gold isn’t a bad incentive either). 14 of the 16 entries in each Olympic relay were decided this weekend in the Bahamas, with the final two spots to be determined by world rankings after June 30th.

While the focus of the weekend was primarily on the teams that qualified, here are five individual performers that separated themselves from the pack:

Tebogo drops massive splits on Botswana’s path to gold

Would you believe me if I told you that two of the three fastest 400m splits this weekend were run by the same man? Probably. What if I also told you that the same man also won silver and bronze in Budapest in the 100m and 200m, respectively, last year? Now it becomes significantly harder to believe. The range!

Well, that is exactly what Letsile Tebogo of Botswana did.

In the qualifying round Saturday night, Tebogo got the baton in seventh place after a poor first leg by Botswana’s now 38-year-old national record holder over 400m, Isaac Makwala. Tebogo proceeded to run his second leg in 43.49 seconds, moving Botswana all the way up to second, over a second ahead of third-place Barbados.

The first 200m of Tebogo’s leg doesn’t even feel like it should be possible. He took the handoff from Makwala about two seconds after the leaders, France and India, had passed off the baton to their second runners (unfortunately, both teams pulled up with injury on this leg). Tebogo started to make up ground on the field in the first 100m, but he went very wide on the back straight. Staying mostly in lanes three and four the whole time ended up working out for him, however, as he was at the front of the pack when he finally got to the rail heading into the turn.

Tebogo did end up relinquishing the lead in the final 50m, handing off about two-tenths of a second behind the South African team, but he more than did his job.

The finals were slightly less dramatic, as he was starting his leg in third as opposed to seventh. After a slightly-slower – yet still ridiculous! – split of 43.72, he gave Botswana a lead they held onto the rest of the race en route to a World Relays title in 2:59.11.

The 20-year-old’s third season in the senior ranks is off to an absurd start, and his performance this weekend only adds to that. He’s already run 19.71 into a strong headwind in the 200m, which is his signature event, if he has one at this point. He ran the fastest time ever in the 300m in February with a clocking of 30.69, and in March he ran a new PB of 44.29 in the open 400m, which is currently the second-fastest time in the world this year. Now he’s put up splits significantly under 44 seconds on back-to-back days. Did you catch the part where I said he’s still only 20?

It feels like the legend of Letsile Tebogo grows more and more each time he steps on track, and it will be appointment viewing when he makes his Olympic debut in the 100m, 200m, and now the 4x400m in August.

Side note – the second-fastest split of the weekend belonged to Great Britain’s Charlie Dobson in the qualifying round of the mixed 4x400m. Tabbed by hurdle great Colin Jackson as the British athlete to watch in Paris, his 43.63 second split shows he could very well live up to the hype and should be one to look out for in the Olympic 400m field.

Rhasidat Adeleke was Ireland's hero at the 2024 World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.Rhasidat Adeleke was Ireland's hero at the 2024 World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Three huge runs from Adeleke send Ireland to Paris twice

If Rhasidat Adeleke somehow wasn’t a household name after finishing fourth in the women’s 400m in Budapest last summer, she is now. Of the 12 fastest 400m splits by women over the weekend, Adeleke ran three of them. The only other athlete to appear inside that top 12 multiple times is Femke Bol. Not bad company.

Running splits of 49.64 in the mixed 4x400m and 49.48 in the women’s 4x400m about an hour-and-a-half apart on Saturday night was cool and all, but the 21-year-old Irishwoman’s magnum opus came on Sunday. Opting to run only in the finals of the mixed 4x400m, Adeleke’s 48.45 second split on the second leg was the fastest this weekend by .48 seconds, well ahead of Marileidy Paulino’s split of 48.93 the evening before.

Adeleke’s run, which began in fourth place and ended in second, just barely behind the eventual champion American squad, was much more measured and patient than Tebogo’s leg we highlighted earlier. She was mostly level with Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands through the first 200m, and then did most of her damage in a devastating closing half-lap.

Joseph Fahnbulleh all smiles after leading Liberia to an Olympic berth in the 4x100m relay.Joseph Fahnbulleh all smiles after leading Liberia to an Olympic berth in the 4x100m relay.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Fahnbulleh powers Liberian 4x100m team to first Olympics in 24 years

If you haven’t watched heat 1 of Olympic Qualifying Round 2 of the men’s 4x100m yet, I implore you to go watch it right now. Joseph Fahnbulleh, Liberia’s anchor, went from fifth to second and closed a gap of at least three to four meters over the final 80m of this race to send his country to Paris.

Unfortunately, for some unknown and very annoying reason, this race is the only one from the whole weekend that doesn’t have official splits posted on the World Athletics results page. I’d like to think it’s because, as NBC Sports’ Travis Miller said on X/Twitter, “Somebody thinks we can't handle learning exactly how fast Joseph Fahnbulleh was running.”

Whatever the split was, even if it wasn’t faster than Noah Lyles’ 8.88 anchor in the final – the fastest split we do have from the weekend – the circumstances of Fahnbulleh’s finish make it, in my opinion, the most impressive 100m leg of the weekend. Their final time of 38.65 also marks a new Liberian record.

Liberia’s qualification also was a big part of one of the absolute best moments of the meet, as them, the men’s and women’s teams from Nigeria, and the Ghanaian men’s team celebrated their Olympic qualifications in the mixed zone. It was a huge weekend for West African sprinting.

For Fahnbulleh, the start to his 2024 season is incredibly promising after what was a somewhat frustrating 2023 campaign. He still made his third straight global final in Budapest, but his season’s best in the 200m was only 20.19, a far cry from his 19.83 PB at the 2022 NCAA Championships. He seems to be coming back to the form we are so familiar with in 2024 however, as his 200m opener of 20.06 is faster than any time he ran last year and the best opening mark of his life. In addition to his remarkable performance in Nassau, he also anchored the Gainesville Elite team back in March to a time of 37.67, one of the fastest performances by an international team in history. He already has Olympic experience from a fifth place finish in Tokyo, and it would be incredibly unwise for fans to forget about “The Fahnbullet” come Paris.

Gabby Thomas at the 2024 World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.Gabby Thomas at the 2024 World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Thomas shows off range with ridiculous double

49.58 seconds is a pretty good split for a women’s 4x400m. In fact, it’s really good. That was the eighth-fastest split of the weekend. 10.23 is also a pretty good split for a women’s 4x100m. That was the fourth-fastest split in the finals on Sunday night. When one athlete runs those two splits 20 minutes apart from each other, you enter truly incredible territory.

Gabby Thomas, last year’s silver medallist in the 200m, ran 10.23 on the second leg of the U.S. women’s 4x100m team that went on to set a new World Relays record in 41.85 at 9:53 p.m. Then at 10:13 p.m., she ran the second leg of the eventual championship-winning U.S. women’s 4x400m team in 49.58. That’s insane, but also that’s Gabby Thomas.

Thomas’s range, similar to Tebogo’s, is incredibly obvious, but it’s still mesmerizing to see it in action, especially when it happens in the fashion it did Sunday night. Her 2024 season in and of itself has been a perfect display of this range so far. She’s currently tied for sixth on the all-conditions 100m world list at 10.88/+2.2, she’s the world leader in the 200m at 22.08, and is the seventh-fastest woman this year outdoors in the 400m. I suppose it’d also be worth mentioning she ran the eighth-fastest indoor 300m in history in February at 35.75, but that’s not even her PB in the event.

Thomas was a member of the Budapest 4x100m team that ran the fourth-fastest time in history, so she should be relatively comfortable in that spot. However, being selected for the 4x400m will be a bit more challenging given the depth the U.S. has at that distance, as well as the ability to pull runners from other events for that relay (i.e. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Athing Mu). If she is going to be on that team though, running the fastest split by an American at World Relays just might be the best way to do it. She’ll also have a full day in between the finals for the relays in Paris, instead of less than half an hour.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo is a leader for The Bahamas and the relays at the 2024 Paris Olympics.Shaunae Miller-Uibo is a leader for The Bahamas and the relays at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

Miller-Uibo, Gardiner bring home crowd to their feet

The Bahamian crowd may not have had as much to cheer about as they would have hoped for going into the meet, as only one of their four entries qualified for Paris, but they sure made that one qualification worthwhile.

After finishing 4th in a stacked qualifying heat, and therefore not making it to the finals, the Bahamian mixed 4x400m team came back with a vengeance on Sunday, dropping over two seconds off of their time from just the day before. It was the same quartet as Saturday, just in a different order, and their national record time of 3:12.81 sent Thomas Robinson Stadium into a frenzy.

The race in the heats featured expectedly stellar legs from world and Olympic champions Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner in 49.70 and 45.10 respectively, but the story was 16-year-old Shania Adderly. Slotting in for the injured Anthonique Strachan, Adderly got the baton for her anchor leg in first, but was (completely understandably) run down by the reigning indoor and outdoor 400m world champions Femke Bol and Marileidy Paulino to push her team out of the finals.

Adderly didn’t let this first taste of the senior level deter her though. She came back the next day and ran over half-a-second faster on the second leg en route to an Olympic qualification and the Bahamian record. When Miller-Uibo crossed the line in first on the tailend of a 49.54 second split, the crowd erupted, a perfect display of why we love track and field.

Aside from the absence of Strachan, Miller-Uibo also pointed out after the race that there are several great Bahamian talents competing in the NCAA at the moment who weren’t able to make it to World Relays. Factoring in Gardiner rounding back into form after an injury in the semi-finals in Budapest, Miller-Uibo believes the Bahamas will have a great shot at the world record, set by the U.S. team last August, by the time Paris rolls around.

Paul Hof-Mahoney

Paul is currently a student at the University of Florida (Go Gators) and is incredibly excited to be making his way into the track and field scene. He loves getting the opportunity to showcase the fascinating storylines that build up year-over-year across all events (but especially the throws).