Australia’s women’s 4x100m relay team has all but punched their tickets to Paris 2024, marking their first Olympic appearance since Sydney 2000 with a record-breaking performance in the opening round of the World Athletics Relay Championships in Nassau, the Bahamas.

The team comprising of Australia’s fastest women in Torrie Lewis (QLD, Andrew Iselin), Bree Masters (QLD, Ryan Hoffman), New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete, Ella Connolly (NSW, Andrew Murphy) and Ebony Lane (VIC, Matt Carter) put their rivalries on the track aside to demonstrate their prowess in the event, automatically advancing to the final with an Area Record time of 42.83-seconds.

With the top-two teams from each heat directly advancing to the final, and the top-14 teams at the end of the Championships locking in their spot for Paris, their milestone achievement not only breaks a two-decade Olympic hiatus for the team but also signals a new era for Australian sprinting on the world stage.

“I think we all had a lot of trust in each other, so we said, you know what, let’s just relax. We’ve done the work and we’ve done this a million times. Let’s just go do this and qualify for the Olympics together,” Connolly, pictured above, said.

“I’m so speechless! I had full faith that we could do it, but we actually did it and it’s just wild. To have that automatic Olympic qualification is so, so exciting,” Masters said.

Despite the smooth exchanges between Lane and Masters, then to Connolly and Lewis, the run was not without its drama, as teen sensation Lewis powered to the finish line against the strength of Germany and Cote D’Ivoire. 

While Germany took first place, only a photo finish could separate Lewis from global medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith (CID), but after a nervous wait, the Australians breathed out a sigh of relief which quickly turned into celebrations as the team realised their historic feat.

“I saw three people leave at the same time, and I was like ‘oh my god, we have to run!’ and then I saw Ta Lou-Smith go past, and then we were fine, and now we’re going to the OLYMPICS!” Lewis said.

The job is not over for the nation’s fastest women, with the foursome qualifying fifth fastest for tomorrow’s final. 

A similar ending to Heat 3 of the Men’s 4x100m relay saw a battle of Olympic proportions, as the Australian team consisting of Sebastian Sultana (NSWIS, Greg Smith), Jacob Despard (TAS, Rolf Ohman), Calab Law (QLD, Andrew Iselin) and Joshua Azzopardi (NSWIS, Rob Marks) finished third behind Canada and Jamaica, with a photo finish separating sprinting powerhouse Jamaica and the underdog Australian team.

Though missing out on the final, the team will line up tomorrow for the repechage round, with their strong run of 38.50 strengthening their confidence and keeping their Paris dream alive.

“Jamaica have always been such a powerhouse team, so to even be in the same conversation with them is kind of surreal. If we run roughly the same time tomorrow, then we should be going to Paris, but we will need to execute and run to our full potential,” Azzopardi said.

A quartet consisting of Olympic 400m sprinters Bendere Oboya (VIC, Craig Mottram) and Ellie Beer (QLD, Brett Robinson), as well as rising stars Mikaela Selaidinakos (VIC, Steve Gaffney) and Alanah Yukich (WA, Rose Monday) finished Heat 1 of the Women’s 4x400m relay in fourth place, clocking 3:28.20 for a season’s best time. 

Beer’s 50.99 time was the fastest of the four, and the second fastest within the heat, adding credentials to the team ahead of tomorrow’s repechage round.

Fourth across the finish line in the final heat of the Men’s 4x400m, the team consisting of Luke van Ratingen (NSW, Ben Liddy), Alex Beck (QLD, Mark Ladbrook), Thomas Reynolds (VIC, Matt Oakley) and Harrison Hunt (SA, Dylan Hicks). Qualifying for the World Athletics Relay Championships in 32nd place, the team continued to step up to the challenge with season’s best run of 3:03.81 and will regroup before tomorrow’s second-round.

The 2024 World Athletics Relay Championships continue tomorrow from 9.05am AEST, and can be viewed live and free via the World Athletics Inside Track platform. Sign up for free HERE.

Sascha Ryner, Athletics Australia

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