Richardson, McLaughlin and Lyles set to lead the Americans to a big medal haul at Olympic track


EUGENE, Ore. — The U.S. Olympic track trials ended on a high note. Or, in this case, on a low number.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone lowered the world record once more in her signature event, the 400-meter hurdles. With her run of 50.65 seconds, she cemented herself with Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson among the fantastic bets to bring home a medal or two for the U.S. from the Paris Olympics.

“Super encouraging,” McLaughlin-Levrone said of her record-setting run on a day where she didn’t really expect it. “Knowing there’s more there and there’s more to fix, just as a confidence booster.”

Sunday marked only McLaughlin-Levrone’s fourth 400 hurdles race of the season, as she geared back up from a year of running sprints. She also has the best time in the world this year (48.75) in the regular 400, which does nothing to diminish the U.S. team’s already strong chances of winning the 4×400 relay at the end of the Olympic track meet.

Though the United States has won the most track and field medals at every Olympics since 1992, it took home a modest 26 from Tokyo. That was six fewer than its all-time high, four years earlier in Rio de Janeiro, though any hints of disappointment were largely stifled due to the difficulties of training for and competing in an Olympics that came a year late and without fans in the stands because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the U.S. team is largely locked in for Paris, here’s a look at where its medals might come from.

Lyles’ status as the gold-medal favorite in the 100 took a slight ding when Jamaica’s Kishane Thompson ran 9.77 in his country’s national championship. Kenny Bednarek (100, 200), Erriyon Knighton (200) and Fred Kerley (100) all have legitimate chances to add in the sprints.

No one has run faster than Richardson at 100 meters this year, and even though she won’t race in the 200, the U.S. has a big name there in Gabby Thomas.

Best bet: Richardson in the women’s 100. Don’t forget: Lyles. U.S. could get: 7 medals (2 gold).

Femke Bol of the Netherlands is in top form and isn’t just going to hand the gold medal to McLaughlin-Levrone. But she’ll have her hands full.

Rai Benjamin (400) and Grant Holloway (110) should take home medals, it’s only a matter of which color. Benjamin must deal with world-record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway and Holloway, a three-time world champion, needs to bring that form to the Olympics, where he finished second last time.

Best bet: McLaughlin-Levrone. Don’t forget: Holloway. U.S. could get: 6 medals (2 gold).

Always tricky here because the depth of the U.S. team means, in theory, it should win all four — make that all five, counting the 4×400 mixed — relays almost every time.

But the Americans have a long history of baton troubles in the 4×100 — the men bobbled it at the last Olympics and didn’t make the podium, but did win last year’s world championships. Lyles has run the anchor leg in the last two major-championship successes — in 2019 and ’23 — and should do so again this year.

This could be the only chance for 800-meter specialist Athing Mu to win a medal. Quincy Wilson, the 16-year-old high school student from Maryland, is in the 4×400 relay pool.

Best bet: Women’s 4×400. Don’t forget: Women’s 4×100. U.S. could get: 4 medals (3 gold).

Mu crashing out at the trials and missing the chance to defend her Olympic 800-meter title was essentially the U.S. team giving away a medal. Nia Akins, the trials champion, could work her way into a podium finish.

Valerie Constien is a medal contender in the steeplechase and Cole Hocker in the 1,500 meters.

Best bet: Constien. Don’t forget: Nikki Hiltz and Elle St. Pierre. U.S. could get: 2 medals (0 gold).

St. Pierre qualified in the 1,500 and the 5,000 but her coach told the running website Citius she was leaning toward running only the 1,500. Grant Fisher also has two shots at a medal by qualifying in the 5,000 and 10,000.

In the marathon, the Americans won’t be favored because none of the qualifiers have a time inside the top 25 this season.

Best bet: Fisher. Don’t forget: Weini Kelati in the 10,000. U.S. could get: 1 medal (0 gold).

Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs have gone 1-2 at the last two Olympics. Crouser, the world-record holder, is recovering from an elbow ailment and a torn pectoral muscle. Kovacs has the top throw this season. On the women’s side, Raven Saunders is the reigning Olympic silver medalist while Chase Jackson is a two-time world champion.

Defending Olympic champion Valarie Allman will be a favorite once again in the discus, while Annette Echikunwoke and DeAnna Price could add medals in the hammer throw.

Best bets: Crouser and Kovacs. Don’t forget: Maggie Malone Hardin (javelin). U.S. could get: 6 medals (3 gold).

Hard to imagine anyone topping Olympic champion and world-record holder Armand “Mondo” Duplantis in the pole vault. But Chris Nilsen (silver in Tokyo) and Sam Kendricks (bronze in Rio) could find their way onto the podium.

Long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall is the most likely to win a jump event for the red, white and blue. She has the second-longest leap this season. Pole vaulter Katie Moon will defend her Olympic title.

Best bets: Davis-Woodhall. Don’t forget: Jasmine Moore (long jump) and Rachel Glenn (high jump). U.S. could get: 5 medals (1 gold).

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games



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