Previews07 May 2021

Strong fields head to Mt SAC for USATF Golden Games


US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson (© Getty Images)

Noah Lyles makes his 200m season opener, Rai Benjamin and Shamier Little return to 400m hurdles action and Sha’Carri Richardson looks to continue her fine 100m form at the USATF Golden Games, part of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series, on Sunday (9).

The meeting features great depth across the board, with Allyson Felix, Michael Norman, Katerina Stefanidi, Keni Harrison, Bryce Hoppel and Laura Muir also among the entries. The inclusion of NFL star DK Metcalf in the 100m line-up adds another dimension to the competition at Mt SAC in Walnut, California.

After racing over 100m in Florida and Eugene last month with a best of 10.08, world 200m champion Lyles returns to his specialty event this weekend and he will be joined by Kenny Bednarek, who ranked second behind Lyles – 19.80 to 19.76 – last year, plus teenager Erriyon Knighton, who ran a wind-assisted 9.99 (2.7m/s) for 100m last weekend.

With the track set to be reversed for the sprints to take advantage of a tailwind, some fast times can be expected.

The women’s event will see multiple global gold medallist Felix race the distance outdoors for the first time since 2017.

World U20 record-holder Richardson moved to sixth on the world 100m all-time list with her 10.72 in Florida on April 11 and after a 22.11 200m six days later she again contests the shorter sprint and lines up alongside English Gardner, Javianne Oliver, Morolake Akinosun, Briana Williams and Olympic and world gold medallist Veronica Campbell Brown.

World silver medallist Benjamin hasn’t raced over the barriers since 2019, during a season which saw him clock 46.98 to become the equal third-fastest 400m hurdler in history, and he makes a comeback this weekend after opening with a 44.97 400m flat behind Norman’s 44.67 in Eugene two weeks ago. In Walnut, Commonwealth champion Kyron McMaster and Brazil’s Alison dos Santos – fresh from World Athletics Relays action – join Benjamin in the 400m hurdles, while Michael Cherry will race against Norman in the 400m.

After becoming only the second woman to ever break 53 seconds for the 400m hurdles and 50 seconds for 400m flat with a 49.91 PB at the Miramar Invitational last month, 2015 world silver medallist Little also makes a highly-anticipated hurdles return. She will line up alongside Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Spencer and Panama’s Gianna Woodruff, who won at the Drake Relays with a world-leading national record of 55.02.

Joining world record-holder Harrison in the 100m hurdles are world 400m hurdles silver medallist Sydney McLaughlin, who clocked a 12.86 PB in Eugene, and Tobi Amusan, who like Harrison has run 12.48 so far this season.

Metcalf tests his speed

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Metcalf has turned heads with his speed on the American football field but will now put that to the test as he takes to the track to race against the likes of Mike Rodgers and Kyree King, who has run 9.97 this season.

The 800m sees Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy, world fourth-placer Bryce Hoppel, 2016 world indoor medallist Erik Sowinski and former NCAA winners Josh Kerr and Michael Saruni in the men’s event. Adelle Tracey won in Eugene last month ahead of her fellow Briton Jemma Reekie and world silver medallist Raevyn Rogers and they all race again at the Golden Games, this time joined by Reekie’s training partner Laura Muir, the double world indoor medallist.

Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford is a former training partner of Muir and Reekie and she races the 1500m along with Elle Purrier, Eilish McColgan, Nikki Hiltz and Aisha Praught-Leer, while the men’s event includes Oceania indoor 1500m record-holder Oliver Hoare, Justyn Knight, Moh Ahmed and Johnny Gregorek.

Olympic runner-up Evan Jager competes in a 3000m steeplechase for the first time since 2018 and his fellow world medallist Courtney Frerichs goes in the women’s event.

Multiple Olympic and world triple jump medallist Will Claye is another set to make his return to competition in Walnut, while the women’s competition features world leader Keturah Orji, who jumped 14.92m last month, plus Thea LaFond, Tori Franklin, Keturah Orji and Kimberly Williams.

Stefanidi continues her comeback

After struggling with a foot injury last year, Olympic pole vault champion Stefanidi is working to rediscover her top form and will look to build on her 4.61m from last weekend in Chula Vista as she goes up against Katie Nageotte and Alysha Newman. KC Lightfoot continues his outdoor season in the men’s event after clearing 6 metres indoors and opening with 5.80m in March.

World silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd threw 19.17m in Florida last month and is joined in the shot put by Chase Ealey, Maggie Ewen and Raven Saunders, with Darrell Hill contesting the men's competition.

The women’s 5000m, which like the steeplechase events forms part of the evening’s Distance Open, includes Molly Huddle and Britain’s European medallist Steph Twell.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics