Previews07 Jun 2024

Lyles, McLaughlin-Levrone and Thompson-Herah set to headline New York


Elaine Thompson-Herah, Noah Lyles and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (© AFP / Getty Images)

Global sprint champions Noah Lyles, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Elaine Thompson-Herah are among the star performers heading to the USATF New York City Grand Prix on Sunday (9) for the second US-based World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting of the year.

In a week when the trailer for upcoming Netflix docuseries Sprint was released, more eyes than ever will be focused on the sport’s biggest sprint stars in the lead-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, where athletics will be the No.1 sport.

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Lyles, one of the protagonists of Sprint, will bring his ‘main character energy’ to New York’s Icahn Stadium for what will be his first 200m of the season, having already impressed across a range of distances this year.

The multiple world champion took world indoor silver medals at 60m and 4x400m in March before anchoring USA to 4x100m at the World Relays in The Bahamas last month. More recently, he clocked a 100m season’s best of 9.85 in Kingston, the second-fastest time of his career behind the 9.83 PB he set to win the world title in Budapest last year.

Lyles has won the 200m at this meeting for the past two years, clocking 19.83 last year and 19.61 in 2022 – just 0.03 shy of the meeting record. The 26-year-old will be keen to make a statement on Sunday in a race that also includes his younger brother Josephus as well as world and Olympic finalist Joe Fahnbulleh, both sub-20-second performers.

McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic 400m hurdles champion, will contest her first 400m flat of the year. Like Lyles, she has also displayed superb form in other disciplines so far this year, clocking a 200m PB of 22.07 and running a world-leading 52.70 in her first 400m hurdles race of the season.

The 24-year-old won the 400m in New York last year in a meeting record of 49.51, then went on to reduce that PB to 48.74 to win the US title, but that also marked the end of her season as an injury ruled her out of the World Championships.

Now back to full fitness, McLaughlin-Levrone will take on a field that includes fellow US sub-50-second sprinters Quanera Hayes, Kendall Ellis and Talitha Diggs.

For Elaine Thompson-Herah, the only way is up in New York. The Jamaican, who won the 100m/200m sprint double at the past two Olympic Games, opened her season last month at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene, where she clocked 11.30 in the 100m to finish ninth – her lowest ever placing in a race.

But the 31-year-old tends to improve as the season progresses, so the chances are that she’ll run faster and finish higher up the field in New York.

World silver medallist Gabby Thomas will also be looking for a confidence-boosting run in the 100m. She had a promising start to her season, clocking a marginally wind-assisted 10.88 and following it with a 50.37 run over 400m, but more recently she finished fourth over 100m (11.42) and sixth over 200m (22.68) at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix.

Aleia Hobbs, who has twice run 10.88 this year, should start as the marginal favourite for the 100m as she gears up for the US Olympic Trials later this month.

Thomas will double up in the 200m later in the programme, where she’ll take on the likes of Tamara Clark and Jenna Prandini.

In the men’s 400m, three past winners of individual global titles will line up alongside three US athletes who’ve won global relay crowns.

World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk will be racing his first individual 400m of the year, having clocked 20.31 over 200m before representing South Africa at the World Relays last month. He’ll take on his predecessor as Olympic champion, 2012 winner Kirani James, who ran 44.58 in Oslo last week. Like Van Niekerk, 2022 world indoor champion Jereem Richards will also be racing his first outdoor 400m of the year.

Chris Bailey, Matthew Boling and Elija Godwin – all of whom are global relay medallists for the US – will carry the host nation hopes.

Elsewhere in the flat sprints, 2022 world champion Fred Kerley leads a men’s 100m field that also includes US compatriots Kendal Williams and Pjai Austin, Nigeria’s Udodi Onwuzurike and Jamaica’s Kadrian Goldson.

World record-holder Tobi Amusan goes into the 100m hurdles with the fastest season’s best of the field, having clocked a world-leading 12.40 in Kingston last month. But one week after running that time, she was beaten by former world record-holder Kendra Harrison, who will also be in New York.

It won’t be just a two-woman race, though. World indoor champion and record-holder Devynne Charlton and two-time world champion Danielle Williams are also in the line-up, as is USA’s Tonea Marshall.

In the men’s event, USA’s world medallists Trey Cunningham and Daniel Roberts take on sub-13-second performers Rasheed Broadbell of Jamaica and Cordell Tinch.

In the men’s 1500m, the longest event on the programme, 2022 world champion Jake Wightman takes on world road mile champion Hobbs Kessler. Australia’s Jesse Hunt and Ireland’s Luke McCann will ensure the race is a competitive one.

Elsewhere in the middle-distance events, the men’s 800m features Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir, 2016 Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, Australia’s Peter Bol, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy and the in-form Isiah Jewett.

In the women’s event, Sage Hurta-Klecker takes on US compatriots Ajee Wilson and Addy Wiley.

Davis-Woodhall looks to extend winning streak

US long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall has been undefeated so far this year, indoors and out, and has jumped beyond seven metres in her past four competitions.

She jumped an outright PB of 7.18m to win the US indoor title, then struck world indoor gold with 7.07m. She opened her outdoor season with 7.16m, then went one centimetre farther to win in Atlanta two weeks later.

Jasmine Moore, a 7.03m performer at her best, and two-time world indoor finalist Quanesha Burks are also in the field.

World indoor champion Sarah Mitton takes on Olympic silver medallist in the women’s shot put, while world and Olympic finalists Daniel Haugh and Rudy Winkler clash in the men’s hammer.

Other global medallists in action in the field events include Jamaican long jumper Carey McLeod, US high jumper Vashti Cunningham, Cuban discus thrower Yaime Perez and Jamaican discus thrower Fedrick Dacres.