Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone continued her push to make the 400m her own Saturday, blazing to victory at the US athletics championships in a world-leading 48.74sec.
McLaughlin-Levrone, the reigning world champion and world record-holder in the 400m hurdles, has switched her focus to the flat race this season with an eye to eventually lowering the world record of 47.60sec set by Marita Koch of the former East Germany in 1985.
“The greats always push themselves, and I want to be one of them,” McLaughlin-Levrone said of her decision to take on a new challenge in a season highlighted by the World Championships in Budapest in August.
She took control of the race early and powered away to win easily over Britton Wilson, who was second in 49.79. Talitha Diggs was third in 49.93.
McLaughlin-Levrone’s personal best time improved on the previous world-leading 48.98 set by Marileidy Paulino on May 27 and gave McLaughlin two potential spots in Budapest, with a bye into the 400 hurdles as defending champion.
“I have no idea,” McLaughlin said of what she’ll race in Budapest. “Obviously make the team is the number one goal, then you go for the win, then you go for the time. So in that order that was my goal and I’m very happy with that time.”
Athing Mu, the 800m world champion, also stepped out of her comfort zone and after a runner-up finish to Nikki Hiltz in the 1,500m refused to rule out what would be a tough double in Budapest.
Like McLaughlin-Levrone, she was cagey on her precise plans, backing off a bit from earlier saying she would “probably not” pursue a double.
“I won’t say that it’s, like, not likely, but I also won’t say that there’s a guarantee that I’ll do it,” she said.
In a chaotic, physical race, Mu took the lead and looked as if she could hang on for a win, but Hiltz used a furious final kick to power past her and win in 4min 03.10sec.
Mu was second in a personal best 4:03.44 and Cory McGee was third in 4:03.48 as Sinclaire Johnson fell across the line and finished fourth.
“That was great!” Mu said, adding that coach Bobby Kersee had advised her to gear herself so she could push in the last 200 metres.
“I kind of started that with 400 to go,” she said. “By the time I got to the last hundred, I just wanted to give it all just like any other race and pull it all the way through.”
Bryce Deadmon won the men’s 400m, charging late to win in 44.22sec ahead of Vernon Norwood and Quincy Hall. The US challenge in the event in Budapest will also include defending champion Michael Norman, who didn’t race the 400 this week.
Former world champion Nia Ali won the 100m hurdles in 12.37sec, with former world record-holder Keni Harrison second in 12.42 and Masai Russell third in 12.46.
Chris Nilsen, silver medallist behind Armand Duplantis at last year’s worlds, won the men’s pole vault with a clearance of 5.91m, and Marquis Dendy won the men’s long jump with a jump of 8.14m.
Maggie Ewen continued her strong season in the women’s shot put, winning with a throw of 19.92m as defending world champion Chase Ealey settled for fourth.
A day after her emotional 100m triumph, Sha’Carri Richardson led the 200m heats with a sizzling wind-aided 21.61sec.
It was the fastest time in the world this year in all conditions, with the 21.91 of Julien Alfred in April the fastest with a legal wind.
Men’s 100m surprise winner Cravont Charleston opted out of the 200m.
Collegiate standout Robert Gregory notched the fastest time of 20.00 as 100m world champion Fred Kerley, Erriyon Knighton Kenny Bednarek and Christian Coleman all eased through to the semi-finals.