NASSAU Bahamas (Reuters) - Yohan Blake and a speedy Jamaican 4x200 metres relay team did not need Usain Bolt to add to the island nation’s collection of world records on Saturday.
Blake, the world’s second fastest 200 metres runner behind Bolt, turned on the jets and anchored Jamaica to a world record one minute, 18.63 seconds at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas.
The sizzling performance took 0.05 seconds off a 20-year-old record held by a Carl Lewis-anchored American team in 1994.
“We knew we could come here and get this medal and world record,” said Blake, whose training partner Bolt holds both the 100 and 200m world records and Olympic titles but has not run this year.
“It feels very good enough I think that we could have gone faster,” added 100m Olympic silver medallist Blake.
Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir and Jermaine Brown put Blake into position for the record. None had been on Jamaica’s world record teams in the 4x100, making the victory more sweet.
St. Kitts and Nevis finished a surprising second in 1:20.51 while France took third in a European record 1:20.66 after the U.S. team were disqualified.
The world record also tumbled in the women’s 4x1500 to help launch the innovative championships in the relay-loving Bahamas.
Kenya, with Hellen Obiri on anchor, obliterated the global mark in the infrequently run event, taking top honors in 16:33.58.
Mercy Cherono, Faith Chepngetich and Irene Jelegat put Kenya in a commanding lead as they wiped out the previous record of 17:05.72 a different Kenyan squad had set in Nairobi last month.
The United States also dipped under the former record as the Americans ran 16:55.33 with Australia placing third in 17:08.65.
Kenya’s men took the other long relay of the night, winning the 4x800 as Alfred Kipketer held on for victory in 7:08.40 with Poland a close second.
The United States wrapped up the evening of speed by winning the women’s 4x100 in 41.88 seconds with rival Jamaicans second.
The relays, which will return to the Bahamas next year, continue on Sunday at Nassau’s national stadium.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Nassau, Bahamas; Editing by Ian Ransom