Sydney McLaughlin breaks world record at USATF Champs; Allyson Felix set for worlds


Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record in the 400m hurdles for the third time in the last year, this time at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

The Olympic champion clocked 51.41 seconds in Eugene, Oregon, bettering her previous record of 51.46 from the Olympics. In all, McLaughlin has brought the record down from 52.16 in the last year.

“Anything is possible any time I step on the track,” said McLaughlin, who planned to celebrate by eating “some real food besides vegetables,” such as a cheeseburger or pancakes. “The goal is to improve upon myself and push the limits.”

McLaughlin’s legendary coach, Bob Kersee, said that McLaughlin is going to eventually turn to the flat 400m and chase that (37-year-old) world record, perhaps after capping this season with a world title in three weeks, NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon said. For now, McLaughlin’s sights are on those worlds, also in Eugene, where she will bid to complete her collection with a first world title.

“I’m just learning the race in general. As I’ve progressed over the years I’ve learned the 400m hurdles,” she said. “It’s a really cool feeling to actually have a race plan going in instead of just going out and running.”

USATF OUTDOORS: TV Schedule | Results

Also Saturday, the farewelling Allyson Felix likely clinched a spot on her 10th and final world championships team by placing sixth in the 400m. Talitha Diggs, whose Olympian mom competed at her last nationals the year before Felix competed in her first nationals, won to qualify for worlds in three weeks, also in Eugene.

“Happy that I don’t have any more open 400s ever,” said Felix, adding that she wants to run the mixed-gender 4x400m relay at worlds and would do the women’s 4x400m if asked. “I went to come here and give it my all, try to get in position for a relay and was able to get that done. Can’t complain.”

Michael Norman took the men’s 400m in 43.56, bettering his own fastest time in the world this year. Norman was the world’s fastest 400m runner in the last Olympic cycle but earned zero individual medals between worlds and the Olympics. Surprise runner-up Champion Allison improved his personal best from 44.29 to 43.70.

Keni Harrison, the Olympic 100m hurdles silver medalist and world record holder, won in 12.35, supplanting Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico as fastest in the world this year. Harrison edged Alaysha Johnson by one hundredth. Nia Ali didn’t start the final but has a bye onto the world team as reigning champ.

Rio Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager, who up until April went nearly four years between completing 3000m steeplechases due to injuries, took second and earned the time standard to make the world team.

“It’s been a real hard, long journey to build back my body and my confidence,” Jager, 33, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “I’m really proud of myself.”

Sinclaire Johnson won the women’s 1500m in 4:03.29 to make her first world team. She’s joined by Olympic finalists Cory McGee and Elle St. Pierre.

Former Oregon Duck Cooper Teare took the men’s 1500m in the absence of two other former Ducks — 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz (knee surgery) and Olympic Trials champion Cole Hocker (eliminated in first round). Teare missed the Olympic 5000m team by one spot.

All of the favorites advanced out of the 200m first round — world champion Noah Lyles (who has an automatic spot on the world team), 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton, Fred Kerley and Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas, Sha’Carri Richardson and Abby Steiner.

Likewise in the 110m hurdles (world champion Grant Holloway and Devon Allen).

The semifinals and finals in those events are Sunday.

Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen won the pole vault with a 5.70-meter clearance. Sam Kendricks scratched but can still compete at worlds via waiver as reigning world champion.

Kara Winger won her ninth U.S. javelin title and qualified for her sixth world team by hitting the qualifying standard on her last throw in her last national championships before retiring.

Maggie Malone, the world No. 1 this year, fouled on all three of her throws. She could still go to worlds, though, since she is one of two U.S. women with the qualifying standard.

ON HER TURF: Allyson Felix on Roe v. Wade

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Coco Gauff rallies past 16-year-old at French Open

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff rallied to defeat 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the French Open third round in Gauff’s first Grand Slam singles match against a younger opponent.

The sixth seed Gauff, the 2022 French Open runner-up, outlasted Andreeva 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 to reach the fourth round, where she will play Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova or American Kayla Day. Gauff could play top seed and defending champ Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals.

This week, Andreeva became the youngest player to win a French Open main draw match since 2005 (when 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria made the quarterfinals). She was bidding to become the youngest to make the last 16 of any major since Gauff’s breakout as a 15-year-old.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

The American made it that far at 2019 Wimbledon (beating Venus Williams in her Grand Slam main draw debut) and the 2020 Australian Open (beating defending champion Naomi Osaka) before turning 16. At last year’s French Open, Gauff became the youngest player to make a Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova won 2004 Wimbledon at 17.

This was only Gauff’s third match against a younger player dating to her tour debut in 2019. It took Gauff 50 Grand Slam matches to finally face a younger player on this stage, a testament to how ahead of the curve she was (and still is at age 19).

While Gauff is the only teenager ranked in the top 49 in the world, Andreeva is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18 at No. 143 (and around No. 100 after the French). And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches at this French Open, fewest of any woman.

Gauff is the last seeded American woman left in the draw after No. 3 Jessica Pegula, No. 20 Madison Keys and No. 32 Shelby Rogers previously lost.

The last U.S. woman to win a major title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major span without an American champ is the longest for U.S. women since Monica Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Rafael Nadal expected to miss rest of 2023 season after surgery

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is expected to need five months to recover from arthroscopic surgery for a left hip flexor injury that kept him out of the French Open, effectively ruling him out for the rest of 2023 ATP tournament season.

Nadal underwent the surgery Friday night in Barcelona on the eve of his 37th birthday. He posted that, if all goes well, the recovery time is five months.

The timetable leaves open the possibility that Nadal could return for the Nov. 21-26 Davis Cup Finals team event in Malaga, Spain, which take place after the ATP Tour tournament season ends.

Nadal announced on May 18 that he had to withdraw from the French Open, a tournament he won a record 14 times, due to the injury that’s sidelined him since January’s Australian Open.

Nadal also said he will likely retire from professional tennis in the second half of 2024 after a farewell season that he hopes includes playing at Roland Garros twice — for the French Open and then the Paris Olympics.

When Nadal returns to competition, he will be older than any previous Grand Slam singles champion in the Open Era.

Nadal is tied with Novak Djokovic for the men’s record 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

While Nadal needs to be one of the four-highest ranked Spanish men after next year’s French Open for direct Olympic qualification in singles, he can, essentially, temporarily freeze his ranking in the top 20 under injury protection rules.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!