McLaughlin-Levrone and Lyles secure statement sprint wins in New York
Jun 9, 2024

McLaughlin-Levrone and Lyles secure statement sprint wins in New York

Dominant sprint wins by Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Noah Lyles and another seven metre-plus long jump victory by Tara Davis-Woodhall were among the highlights as World Athletics Continental Tour Gold action continued at the USATF New York City Grand Prix on Sunday (9).

McLaughlin-Levrone has tested herself in a range of disciplines already this year but the Olympic 400m hurdles champion and world record-holder made a big statement in her first 400m flat race of 2024. 

The 24-year-old decided to focus on the flat event in 2023 before injury forced her to end her season early. Returning to the 400m for the first time since last July, she lit up the track with a 48.75 world lead that was just 0.01 off the PB she set last year – a mark that places her 10th on the world all-time list.

With Sanya Richards-Ross the only US women’s 400m sprinter to have ever gone faster with 48.70 in 2006, McLaughlin-Levrone’s immediate post-race reaction was “so close”.

Racing on a blustery afternoon, she won by more than two seconds, Talitha Diggs taking the runner-up spot in 50.91.

Two days after an exclusive pre-screening of the new Netflix Sport series ‘Sprint’ in New York, Lyles – one of the starring athletes – demonstrated his ‘main character energy’ to win the 200m on his season debut at the distance.

Running into a headwind, the six-time world gold medallist blazed to a clear win in 19.77 (-1.6 m/s) and was never threatened, even with a strong finish by Joseph Fahnbulleh who came through for second place in 20.15. Josephus Lyles, the younger brother of Noah, was third in 20.51.

Another athlete bringing big energy to New York’s Icahn Stadium was world indoor long jump champion Davis-Woodhall, who secured her sixth win of the season and fourth consecutive seven metre-plus triumph. 

This time she soared a best of 7.14m, just four centimetres off the world-leading PB she set in Albuquerque in February. Jasmine Moore was second with a 6.88m leap.

In the women’s 200m, the biggest challenger to Gabby Thomas seemed to be the wind. Just over an hour after she finished fourth in the 100m, the world 200m silver medallist lined up for the longer sprint and ran 22.42 into a strong headwind (-3.1m/s). Tamara Clark chased her home in 22.79.

It was Nigeria’s Favour Ofili who got the 100m win as she held off Morolake Akinosun and her US compatriots Aleia Hobbs and Thomas with an 11.18 run into another significant headwind (-2.1m/s).

Akinosun was 0.02 back, with Hobbs third in 11.21 and Thomas fourth in 11.34. Jamaica’s five-time Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah finished ninth for the second time in as many races and looked in pain at the finish as she immediately removed her right spike before being helped off the track.

USA’s 2022 world champion Fred Kerley originally lined up for the 100m but after jumping out of the blocks and stumbling before the race was recalled, he decided not to restart. Nigeria’s Udodi Onwuzurike went on to claim the win, clocking 10.24 (-0.7m/s) to finish just 0.01 ahead of Kendal Williams, with Pjai Austin another 0.01 back in third.

World indoor 60m hurdles champion and world record-holder Devynne Charlton got off to a trademark fast start in the women’s 100m hurdles and she managed to hold on for the win, dipping to victory in 12.56 (-1.9m/s) ahead of Alaysha Johnson, finishing just 0.02 back. World record-holder Tobi Amusan was third in 12.66.

World silver medallist Trey Cunningham looked on his way to a dominant victory in the 110m hurdles and while he did eventually win the race, Rasheed Broadbell made sure it was a more competitive affair. Cunningham dipped over the finish line in 13.21 (-0.8m/s), 0.07 ahead of the Commonwealth Games champion.

Four athletes looked in contention as the men’s 400m reached the home straight, with Kirani James, Wayde van Niekerk, Jereem Richards and Matthew Boling all running in a line off the final bend.

As they battled for the finish, 2012 Olympic champion James proved strongest, powering to a win in a season’s best of 44.55. Just behind that leading quartet off the curve was Chris Bailey and he unleashed a late surge to secure second place in 44.73, 0.01 ahead of world record-holder Van Niekerk.

Another global gold medallist in action was Jake Wightman and he raced to a narrow win in the 1500m, running a final lap of 52.5 to pass and hold off Eric Holt. Wightman, the 2022 world champion, overtook leader Holt down the back straight and began to charge to the finish line, with world road mile champion Hobbs Kessler giving chase.

Wightman managed to hold on, just – clocking a season’s best of 3:34.01 and inspiring Holt to a PB of 3:34.05. Kessler secured third in 3:34.41.

Sage Hurta-Klecker used a well-timed kick to win the women’s 800m, surging down the home straight to break the tape in 2:00.33 and triumph ahead of her US compatriots Olivia Baker (2:00.73) and Sammy Watson (2:00.91).

The men’s 800m was won by Mexico’s Jesus Tonatiu Lopez as he powered away from his rivals and held on to take top spot in 1:44.96. Wes Ferguson was some way back off the bend but ran a storming finish to take second place in a PB of 1:45.06.

Competing the evening before the main programme, Cuba’s Yaime Perez – who threw 73.09m in April for the longest mark in the world since 1989 – achieved a dominant discus win, throwing 68.31m. Alex Rose is another athlete who has been in fine form recently, having improved the Oceanian record to 71.48m in May, and he won the men’s event in New York with a best of 66.18m. 

Canada’s world indoor champion Sarah Mitton was the sole athlete to surpass 20 metres in the women’s shot put and she did so twice, throwing 20.15m and 20.07m to eventually win by more than a metre. Olympic silver medallist Raven Saunders was second with 19.11m.

US javelin record-holder Kara Winger announced her retirement in 2022, the year she became a world silver medallist. Since then she has worked in the media and as an official, but she returned to the field of play in New York and did so in winning style.

Throwing 63.22m and surpassing 60 metres with three of her attempts, she won by more than three metres, with her US compatriot Maggie Malone-Hardin finishing second with 59.93m.

Vashti Cunningham had the high jump won with her second-time clearance of 1.90m but the 2016 world indoor champion had the bar raised to 1.95m and managed that on her first try before three unsuccessful attempts at a season’s best of 1.98m. 

Her US compatriot Dontavious Hill entered the competition at a PB height of 2.26m and that decision paid off as he cleared the bar on his second attempt to win and add two centimetres to his previous best. He went on to have three tries at 2.33m.

The men’s triple jump came down to a battle between the Scotts as USA’s Donald Scott beat Jamaica’s Jordan Scott by just two centimetres, 16.94m to 16.92m, while Marquis Dendy won the long jump with a leap of 8.07m.

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