Who invented the baton?
Relay race is a team competition in athletics in which the runners start one after the other; the change takes place by handing over the baton.
Relay competitions over 4 x 100 m and 4 x 400 m are held for men and women.
Rules in brief
The relay teams consist of four runners each. The baton must be handed over within a changing area of 20 m. Today a lost baton can be picked up and the race can be continued, even if it is outside the track.
For men, the 4 x 100 m relay has been Olympic since Stockholm 1912 and the 4 x 400 m relay since London 1908; Olympic medals have been awarded in relay competitions for women since Amsterdam 1928 (4 x 100 m) and since Munich (4 x 400 m).
The most successful nation is the USA, whose winning streak was seldom interrupted, e.g. in Rome in 1960, when the highly-favored US season was disqualified because of a mistake between Frank Budd and Ray Norton. At that time the German quartet with Bernd Cullmann, Armin Hary, Walter Mahlendorf and Martin Lauer won.
A similar mishap happened to the German women's sprint relay in Berlin in 1936, when Maria Dollinger and Ilse Dörffelt, lying far in the lead, dropped the baton at the handover; the runners from the USA won.
The German women won the 1972 sprint relay with the cast of Christiane Krause, Ingrid Mickler-Becker, Annegret Richter and Heide Rosendahl in front of the team from the GDR, which turned the tables in Montreal in 1976. In the 4 x 400 m relay, the runners from the GDR won in Munich in 1972 and in Montreal in 1976.
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