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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone enters 400m among Los Angeles Grand Prix headliners

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone

Jun 23, 2022; Eugene, OR, USA; Sydney McLaughlin wins women’s 400m heat in 54.11 for the top time during the USA Championships at Hayward Field, Eugene. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world champion and world record holder in the 400m hurdles, is an early entry into the 400m without hurdles for the Los Angeles Grand Prix on May 27, according to USA Track and Field.

Organizers announced headline athletes Thursday, including a 100m hurdles field with the two fastest women in history (Nigerian Tobi Amusan and American Keni Harrison) and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico. The men’s shot put includes the Americans who swept the 2022 World Championships medals: world record holder Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs and Josh Awotunde.

NBC Sports and Peacock air meet coverage on May 27 from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

While McLaughlin-Levrone’s entry into the flat 400m is notable given her comments last year about wanting to add the event to her program, note four things:

*Her coach, Bob Kersee, is one of the Los Angeles Grand Prix organizers, so it’s no surprise she is on the entry list.
*The women’s 400m hurdles is not on the meet program.
*Athlete fields are subject to change, especially a month out from the meet.
*McLaughlin-Levrone often races events other than the 400m hurdles at non-championship meets and has not publicly said whether she plans to race the flat 400m at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, the qualifying meet for August’s world championships.

It would be her first time racing an individual flat 400m since April 2021 and the third time in her professional career dating to 2019.

McLaughlin-Levrone said after last season that she wanted to add the flat 400m to her program while not giving up the 400m hurdles just yet.

Her personal best in the 400m is 50.07 seconds, set in 2018 as a University of Kentucky freshman. That time would have placed fourth at last July’s world championships.

A better measure of her potential is her 4x400m relay split from those worlds: 47.91 seconds — making her the seventh-fastest relay performer in history and second-fastest in the last 34 years behind Allyson Felix. Relay splits, outside of leadoff legs, are also usually significantly faster than an athlete’s best individual 400m time due to running starts.

McLaughlin-Levrone has a decision to make for this summer. She has a bye into the 400m hurdles at August’s worlds in Budapest as reigning world champion. That gives her leeway to race the flat 400m instead at July’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where the top three are in line to qualify for the individual event at worlds.

Nobody has ever won both events at a single world championships. Few, if any, have raced both at a worlds.

Come August’s worlds, the women’s 400m hurdles first round heats start 2 hours and 20 minutes before the women’s 400m semifinals. Top-level pros rarely race multiple times in one session in a distance longer than 200 meters at any meet.

The Olympic schedule is as accommodating as ever for a possible women’s 400m-400m hurdles double in 2024.

For the first time in Olympic history, none of the rounds of those races take place on the same day at the Games. But doing both through the finals would still be a challenge: racing six consecutive days at the Olympics (and a seventh day at the end if adding the 4x400m relay).

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