Richardson back on track 200, McLaughlin-Levrone in 400 hurdles as Olympic trials enter homestretch

EUGENE, Ore. — Sha’Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles are coming back for Part II. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Gabby Thomas are joining the show.

The second half of U.S. Olympic trials for track and field kick off Thursday, and the final four days at Hayward Field will feature the full complement of America’s biggest names in the sport.

Richardson and Lyles will try to earn spots in the 200 meters to go along with the titles they won in the 100 over the first weekend.

McLaughlin-Levrone looks to secure a spot in the 400-meter hurdles, the event where she holds the world record and is the reigning Olympic champion.

And Thomas tries to nail down a spot in her specialty, the 200 meters, where she won an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo.

If any of them needed a refresher on what’s really at stake, all they had to do was look at the race that closed the curtain on the first half of the action at Hayward Field. Another of America’s brightest stars, Athing Mu, went tumbling on the first lap of the 800 meters Monday night, denying her a chance at a repeat of her Olympic title.

In the U.S., the top three finishers in each event make the Olympics — provided they have the Olympic qualifying standard in their event — and there are no free passes, even for the best at their craft.

“This is my 12th Olympic Games, my 47th national championship, and this is the hardest team in the world to make,” said coach Bobby Kersee, who works with both Mu and McLaughlin-Levrone.

After lowering the world record to 50.68 seconds at world championships in 2022, McLaughlin-Levrone basically took two years off from the 400 hurdles and left the track world wondering if she might move to another event.

Not to be. She rededicated herself to her main event, and if she fails to earn an Olympic spot — or fails to win Sunday’s final — it would be as big a surprise as any at this meet. She knows there are no sure things.

“Always respect your competitors, but know I can go out there and continue to do what I’ve been doing,” McLaughlin-Levrone said. “So no anxiety. Just continuing to perform to the best of my ability.”

Thomas knows she’ll have her work cut out to return to the Olympics.

Among those the neurobiology major from Harvard is set to face are Richardson and Twanisha Terry, the third-place finisher in the 100. Also, there’s McKenzie Long, the NCAA 100 and 200 champion from Ole Miss who has the fastest time this season at 21.83 seconds.

Thomas sees this as yet another indication of the strength of the sport on the women’s side. It’s why, once the Olympics are over, she’s on board for an all-women’s track meet in September.

“It’s a big moment for women’s sports. I’m really inspired by that,” Thomas recently said. “It’s a big moment for women’s track and field, too. Soccer and basketball, they’re getting so much love right now. But track and field we have such an amazing product, especially the women — we are crushing it. I think we’re fun to watch.”

Hurdler Grant Holloway keeps his Olympic silver medal from Tokyo in a box. And while it does serve as motivation, the medal doesn’t necessarily fuel him.

Still, that elusive Olympic gold is the only hole on the resume for one of the top 110-meter hurdlers ever. Holloway has won three straight world championships and turned in the second-fastest time ever in the event. He’s also added two world indoor titles in the 60-meter hurdles to his portfolio.

“Do I look at (the Olympic medal) every day, saying it should have been mine? No,” said Holloway, who’s a favorite to make the team, with semifinals Thursday and the final Friday. “I feel like I’ve already solidified myself in that realm. Now it’s just come out, do the practices and make it happen.”

While the Americans are fighting for spots in Eugene, the Jamaican Athletics Championships take place in Kingston over the weekend and will play a large role in setting the lineup for Paris.

These will be the last Olympics for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 37. She’s trying to add to the eight Olympic medals she already has won at 100, 200 and the 4×100 relays.

Shericka Jackson ran 21.41 in the 200 last year, coming within .07 seconds of Florence Griffith Joyner’s world record, set in 1988.

Elaine Thompson-Herah is the two-time defending champion at 100 and 200 meters, but she is entered only in the 100 this year and her health is in question after she went down at a meet in New York last month.

On the men’s side, Oblique Seville has the distinction of being 1-0 against Lyles this year. Seville beat the world champion in Kingston earlier this month, running a 9.82 that is .01 faster than Lyles ran to win the 100 and set his season best last weekend.


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