Feature01 Jul 2024

Ten stars set to shine bright at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games


Ethan Katzberg, Faith Kipyegon, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Mondo Duplantis (© Getty Images)

With various area championships having been held throughout June, and the national championships window having now closed, the fields for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are starting to take shape.

Some of the sport’s biggest stars, as well as some newer names, have excelled in recent weeks. To mark one month to go until track and field action starts at the Olympic Games, here’s a run-down of the status quo among some of the current standout performers.


Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone

Having missed most of the 2023 season through injury, the super-talented Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone showed she is back to her best by winning the 400m hurdles at the US Trials in a world record of 50.65 – her fifth world record of her career so far, despite still being just 24 years of age.

Prior to that, she had outlined her strong form by setting a 200m PB of 22.07 and clocking a world-leading 48.75 over 400m.

Four other women heading to Paris have broken 53 seconds this season, but McLaughlin-Levrone is almost two seconds faster than her nearest rival this year – world champion Femke Bol – so the US athlete will start as the strong favourite in Paris. If she succeeds, she’ll become the first woman in history to win two Olympic titles in the 400m hurdles.


Mondo Duplantis

Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, another dominant force in the sport, has been undefeated so far this year. Not only that, he has already won a global title and broken a world record.

He took world indoor gold in Glasgow in March, then just seven weeks later he opened his outdoor season at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Xiamen, where he won with 6.24m, adding a centimetre to his own world record.

Since then he has continued his run of six-metre-plus victories, his latest coming at the European Championships in Rome where he struck gold with 6.10m before having three solid attempts at a would-be world record of 6.25m.


Faith Kipyegon

Contesting any distance farther than 1000m at altitude can often be challenging due to the lack of oxygen in the air, but Faith Kipyegon made it look incredibly easy at last month’s Kenyan Trials.

The multiple world and Olympic gold medallist won the 5000m in 14:46.28, finishing six seconds ahead of Beatrice Chebet, who had smashed the world 10,000m record just a few weeks prior. One day later, Kipyegon returned to the track and won the 1500m in 3:53.98. Both of her winning marks were the fastest times ever produced at altitude.

The 30-year-old Kenyan won the 1500m and 5000m at last year’s World Championships and is now eyeing a similar double at the Olympic Games in Paris.


Noah Lyles

At the Paris Olympics, US sprinter Noah Lyles is not simply looking to replicate his feat from last year’s World Championships; he wants to go above and beyond.

Having won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in Budapest last year, Lyles wants to win those same disciplines in the French capital, along with the 4x400m. He is clearly in medal-winning form, too, having recently won the sprint double at the highly competitive US Trials.

Noah Lyles wins the 200m at the US Olympic Trials

Noah Lyles wins the 200m at the US Olympic Trials (© Getty Images)

The star of ‘Sprint’ equalled his PB of 9.83 to take the 100m, then won the 200m in a world-leading 19.53. In early May, he anchored USA to 4x100m victory at the World Relays, clocking a world-leading 37.40.


Sha’Carri Richardson

World 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson has picked up where she left off last season. She won the 100m at the Prefontaine Classic in May in 10.83, then breezed through the rounds of the US Trials before taking the title in a world-leading 10.71.

She went on to equal her 200m PB of 21.92 in the semifinals of the US Trials, but in a high-quality final she was just edged out of a podium place, so missed earning a spot on the US team in that discipline.

It simply means she can focus all of her energy at the Olympic Games on winning the same disciplines – the 100m and 4x100m – that she won at last year’s World Championships.


Kishane Thompson

A relatively new name on the international sprint scene, Kishane Thompson’s breakthrough last year went almost unnoticed.

He clocked 9.91 in the heats of the Jamaican Championships last year, but didn’t contest the final and so missed out on competing at the World Championships. Later in the season, he reduced his PB to 9.85 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Xiamen.

The enigmatic 23-year-old opened his 2024 campaign at last week’s Jamaican Championships, clocking a PB of 9.82 in the heats before winning the final in a world-leading 9.77 to earn his spot in Paris. Could he be the man to put Jamaica back on top of the Olympic 100m podium?


Shericka Jackson

Ever since making the rookie error of easing up too early in her heat at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Shericka Jackson has been near flawless in the 200m.

From June 2022 until May 2024, the versatile Jamaican sprinter was undefeated at 200m, notching up two world titles and clocking three of the four fastest times in history.

Shericka Jackson secures the 200m title at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23

Shericka Jackson secures the 200m title at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)

The 29-year-old may have needed a few races this year to find her top gear, but her performance at the recent Jamaican Championships – where she won the 100m (10.84) and 200m (22.29) – suggests she is rounding into form at just the right time.


Ethan Katzberg

When Ethan Katzberg won the world hammer title last year, he was considered one of the most surprising winners of the championships. But the Canadian has been undefeated since then, showing that his performance in Budapest was no fluke.

In his first outing of 2024, just two weeks after his 22nd birthday, Katzberg smashed the North American record with a world-leading 84.38m in Nairobi. He backed it up with an 81.98m victory in Bergen and, more recently, an 82.60m triumph at the Canadian Championships.

One month out from Paris, Katzberg owns the six farthest throws in the world so far this year.


Nafi Thiam

When an injury ruled out Nafi Thiam from defending her world heptathlon title in Budapest last year, some wondered whether the Belgian all-rounder would be able to return to title-winning form.

But the 29-year-old quashed any doubts when winning the European title last month in 6848, the third-best score of her career, despite it being her first competition since last July.

Belgian heptathlete Nafissatou Thiam at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22

Belgian heptathlete Nafissatou Thiam at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© AFP / Getty Images)

She’ll now spend the next month sharpening her form ahead of the Paris Games, where she’ll look to make history by becoming the first woman to win three Olympic combined events titles.


Lamecha Girma

If anyone is due a global gold medal, it’s Lamecha Girma. The Ethiopian distance runner has contested five global championships to date, and has won silver every time.

But Girma – who holds world records for the 3000m steeplechase and the indoor 3000m – has started 2024 in superb form. He was undefeated indoors, then set PBs of 12:58.96 for 5000m and 3:53.82 for the mile at the start of the outdoor season. Last month, he clocked a world-leading 8:01.63 in the steeplechase in Stockholm.

With world and Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali struggling with a knee injury, perhaps 2024 will be Girma’s chance to shine on the global stage.

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