EUGENE, Ore. — The conversation about what track sensation Sydney McLaughlin will do next involves more than the clock.
Yes, she knocked the record for her 400-meter hurdles race by nearly three-quarters of a second at the world championships, to a once-unthinkable mark of 50.68 seconds. But it was her run the women’s 4×400 relay this might really make people wonder.
The Paris Olympics begin two years and two days after the world championships closed on Sunday in Eugene, Oregon. McLaughlin is 22 and still has a lot of work to do in the hurdles, she said. But she also hinted that the flat 400, or even the 100 hurdles, could be in her future.
How his future will be one of the most intriguing storylines between now and Paris. What seems certain is that she can be a top candidate in any discipline she chooses.
McLaughlin ran his anchor lap in Sunday’s gold medal-winning 4×400 in 47.91 seconds – more than a second faster than any other rider in the race.
“Remove the obstacles, it’s a little easier,” she said.
Besides, his 50.68 in the hurdles would have been good for seventh in the regular 400, where they didn’t have to go through all 10 barriers.
Here are some other things to expect in athletics between now and the Stade de France meeting in 2024:
Lyles vs. Knighton
The calm and humble Erriyon Knighton against the charismatic and confident Noah Lyles. It’s shaping up to be a 200-meter rivalry that could go on for a while.
In one lane is Knighton, the 18-year-old Florida player who could have been a standout football player but chose the lane. He prefers to speak with his spikes.
In another, there is a two-time world 200 meter champion Noah Lyles, the 25-year-old from Virginia to Florida who has publicly dealt with mental health issues and just broke the American record. He’s not afraid to stir the pot, like when he pointed the finger at Knighton after beating him at the Nationals.
Both have the speed to be the next big thing in American track.
“Noah Lyles told me I’m going to be one of the best in the sport,” said Knighton, who finished third in the 200m. “It feels good coming from him.”
But Lyles will not go down quietly. He ran in 19.31 seconds in the 200m final, breaking one of the most hallowed records in history: Michael Johnson’s US mark of 19.32 that had stood since the 1996 Olympics.
“There’s no pressure,” Lyles said. “There is pure pleasure here.”
Jamaican sprint supremacy
The order on the podium may change, but not the destination of the medals. Jamaican women continue to own the sprints.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce led the sweep of the island country of 100 meters. Led by Shericka Jackson and her second best time ever, the sprint nation also won gold and silver in the 200m.
“I went out and put on the show,” Jackson said.
Jamaicans have a knack for that. When Usain Bolt hung them after the 2017 world championships, the focus on the island shifted to women, who had also dominated the pre-Bolt era, with the likes of Merlene Ottey and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
“We’re finally getting the recognition we deserve,” Fraser-Pryce said. “I am happy that we are able to do this and show the world, as women, that we are strong.”
And it all came with Elaine Thompson-Herah, the two-time Olympic 100 and 200m champion, having a mediocre encounter. She finished third in the 100 and seventh in the 200.
Thompson-Herah will attempt a pair of triplets in Paris. The world will be waiting to see if Fraser-Pryce, 35, also hangs on for two years. She certainly seemed to be having fun in Oregon.
For these athletes, just being here was a huge win. Displaced from their homes after the Russian invasion of their country, they trained in distant lands when often have to worry on their families, who were fighting or sheltering in Ukraine.
In the best case, the war will be over by 2024. Otherwise, each sport sets requirements to participate in events, including the Olympics, but the IOC will certainly have a say in the Russians’ ability to compete. Ukrainians in Paris.
Around the world
Armand Duplantis, the Louisiana-born pole vaulter who represents Sweden, said he felt free between himself and the bar when he cleared a world record 6.01 meters in the final vault of the final event to wrap up Sunday night at this year’s world championships.
Hurdler Karsten Warholm of Norway, whose world record 45.94 in the 400 hurdles went untouched, had his training hampered by injury this year and finished seventh. Still, Alison Dos Santos of Brazil ran in a world championship record time of 46.29. American Rai Benjamin will also be back in what remains one of the most stacked events on the schedule.