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USA, Netherlands, Poland: Belgium's mixed 4X400m relay is put to the test from the start

USA, Netherlands, Poland: Belgium’s mixed 4X400m relay is put to the test from the start

After the final technical checks on Thursday and adorned with the last elements of coquetry, the legendary Hayward Field stadium in Eugene seems ready to host the 18th edition of the world championships! The competition, which will start this Friday, will immediately allow to review the favorites of the 100 m in the evening (during the night in Belgium). On the Belgian side, this inaugural day will see the individual entry into the running of four neophytes: Elise Vanderelst (1,500m), Tim Van de Velde (3,000m steeplechase), Thomas Carmoy (height) and Vanessa Sterckendries (hammer). It will also offer a first big highlight with the mixed 4x400m relay, an event whose heats and final take place on the same day and where Belgium does not want to make up the numbers.

Sixth in the previous edition of the Worlds in 2019 in Doha, fifth in the Tokyo Olympics, our country, past master in the physical-tactical art of passing the baton over the four laps, first for men then also among women since 2018, has arguments to make.

“We have the 9th time in the addition of times, but we are very close to 5th place”says Jacques Borlée, who coaches this team with Carole Bam. “A medal? I remain realistic. We can be ejected in series, even if I do not believe in it, and in the final we will have a 30% chance.”

The composition of the series confirmed the difficulty of the task. Belgium, whose record is 3.11.51, inherited the United States, the Netherlands, Poland and Great Britain as their main opponents. Either the promise of a fast time (two countries will go on time), which can be a good thing if you cannot take one of the three qualifying places.

Tactical novelty

This still young mixed event, which struggles to gain unanimous support because of its place in an already busy program and which hardly convinces skeptics, has evolved further in recent months. No more random order of competitors (which contributed to the show with large gaps between competitors and significant speed differentials depending on tactics), coaches are asked to follow the “man, woman, man, woman” scheme. . And the possibility of change is now limited to a single athlete between the two races, a situation that “favors countries with a large reservoir” judge Kevin Borlée, selected with Alexander Doom, Camille Laus and Naomi Van Den Broeck (Christian Iguacel and Helena Ponette are also in the group).

For Jacques Borlée, countries with ambitious athletes in the 400m will be tempted to spare them. “The most subtle will pass…”



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