McLaughlin’s next move among key stories on the road to 24

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Sydney Mclaughlin of the United States wins the women’s 4×400 meters relay final at the World Championships in Athletics, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Eugene, Oregon. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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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’s her race in the women’s 4×400 relay that might really get people thinking.

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.

By the way, his 50.68 in the hurdles would have been good for seventh place 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’s two-time 200-meter world champion Noah Lyles, the 25-year-old from Virginia via Florida who has dealt with mental health issues publicly 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 island nation sweep in the 100 metres. 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 up after the 2017 world championships, attention 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.”

The latest women’s sweep came on the heels of a 1-2-3 record in the 100m at the Tokyo Games.

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.

UKRAINE

Ukraine brought 22 athletes to Oregon and they walked away with two medals – a silver from high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh who came one night after fellow high jumper Andriy Protsenko won bronze.

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 countries while often having to worry about their families, who were fighting or taking refuge in Ukraine.

Russian athletes were not allowed to participate in the competition. World Athletics President Seb Coe explained there was no way to justify allowing athletes from an invading country to compete against Ukrainian athletes who had to risk their lives just to surrender as far.

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.

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