Previews21 May 2021

Global champions take to the streets in Boston


Noah Lyles in action at the adidas Boost Boston Games (© Victah Sailer / organisers)

A lot has happened during the four years since Wayde van Niekerk last competed at the adidas Boost Boston Games. One world title and a few years of injury later, the Olympic 400m champion returns to the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold street meeting on Sunday (23) ready and raring to go.

The South African sprinter won over 200m at the 2017 edition of this meeting, clocking 19.84 on the straight track. Having recovered from a persistent injury sustained while playing rugby back in 2018, Van Niekerk has returned to winning ways this year and heads to Boston with a season’s best of 20.38, set when winning the South African 200m title last month.

Victory won’t come easy, though, as he’ll be joined in Boston by European 100m champion Zharnel Hughes. The Briton has the fastest 200m season’s best of the field, having clocked 20.14 and a wind-assisted 19.93 last month.

As with the men’s race, the women’s 200m in Boston also features the reigning Olympic 400m champion. Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas will look to extend her unbeaten run at this meeting, having won over 150m in 2018 and 2019, and at 200m in 2017 – clocking 21.76, a world best for the 200m straight.

USA’s Wadeline Jonathas, who finished fourth over 400m at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, could be Miller-Uibo’s toughest opponent.

High-quality hurdles

World record-holder Kendra Harrison makes her Boston Games debut in the women’s 100m hurdles. The world indoor champion has been in impressive form this year, clocking a wind-assisted 12.38 and two wind-legal 12.48 performances.

In what appears to be the highest-quality line-up of the meet, Harrison will take on Sharika Nelvis, winner in Boston in 2018 and 2019, world indoor silver medallist Christina Clemons, 2015 world champion Danielle Williams of Jamaica and African champion Tobi Amusan of Nigeria.

The men’s 110m hurdles, meanwhile, brings together the world indoor record-holder and the outdoor world record-holder in the form of Grant Holloway and Aries Merritt.

Since breaking the world indoor record with 7.29 in February, Holloway has continued his unbeaten run outdoors, winning all three of his competitions so far, topped by his world-leading 13.07 in Gainesville. Merritt, whose last full season was back in 2018, will be looking to improve on his season’s best of 13.90.

Shamier Little heads to Boston in the hope of achieving a third victory in the 200m hurdles. The 2015 world 400m hurdles silver medallist has been in sensational form this year, recording PBs for 400m indoors and out, 200m indoors and 800m outdoors, all of which suggests she’ll improve on her 25.88 PB for the rarely run 200m hurdles.

But Ebony Morrison, who beat Little in Boston in 2018 with a meeting record of 25.80, also returns. Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Spencer, also proficient at a range of events, is also in the line-up.

The men’s race is similarly tough to call. Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos is fresh from a 400m hurdles best of 47.68, but his strength lies in the latter stages of the 400m distance. TJ Holmes, who finished ahead of Dos Santos at the 2019 World Championships, should certainly be in contention, as should Amere Lattin, who has the best form over the shorter hurdles events.

Lyles leads 100m line-up

World 200m champion Noah Lyles will step down in distance to the 100m where he’ll take on younger brother Josephus Lyles and 2017 world 200m finalist Isiah Young, who has already broken 10 seconds for 100m this year.

World indoor champion Murielle Ahoure makes her 2021 outdoor debut in the women’s 100m in Boston, and it won’t be an easy one. The Ivorian sprinter takes on two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers and 2018 US champion Aleia Hobbs.

In the men’s 150m, 2011 world 100m champion Yohan Blake lines up against 2017 world 200m bronze medallist Jereem Richards and USA’s Kyree King, who last month set a 100m PB of 9.97.

World 200m silver medallist Brittany Brown takes on US compatriot Lynna Irby in the women’s 150m.

Having set PBs at 400m, 1000m and 1500m so far this year, Bryce Hoppel has every right to feel confident ahead of the 600m in Boston. But Kenya’s Michael Saruni, who formerly held the world indoor best for the 600m distance, is also in the field, as are Canada’s Marco Arop and Britain’s Jamie Webb.

US 800m record-holder Ajee Wilson contests the women’s 600m, lining up alongside Jamaican record-holder Natoya Goule.

World 1500m bronze medallist Marcin Lewandowski will defend his title in the road mile, taking on a field that includes Olympic 800m bronze medallist Clayton Murphy and USA’s Robby Andrews. Pan-American 1500m champion Nikki Hiltz leads the women’s line-up.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics