Athletics-McLaughlin breaks own hurdles record, Norman clinches men's 400 metres
"When the gun went off you could just kind of feel that everyone was elevating the performance," said Norman, a Tokyo relay gold medallist. The top three finishers in Eugene, Oregon, who meet certain qualifying standards, and reigning global title-holders will compete at the world championships, which will be held in the United States for the first time from July 15 at the same track.
Sydney McLaughlin smashed yet another world record in the 400 metres hurdles at the U.S. championships on Saturday, while Michael Norman won the men's 400 metres.
In her final national championship race, Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in track history, finished sixth in the 400. Olympic gold medallist McLaughlin never faced a serious challenge in the final at Eugene, Oregon's Hayward Field, breaking her own world record to win in 51.41 seconds before offering up a double-thumbs to the roaring fans.
Norman won in a world-leading 43.56 seconds, with Champion Allison and Randolph Ross finishing second and third, respectively. "When the gun went off you could just kind of feel that everyone was elevating the performance," said Norman, a Tokyo relay gold medallist.
The top three finishers in Eugene, Oregon, who meet certain qualifying standards, and reigning global title-holders will compete at the world championships, which will be held in the United States for the first time from July 15 at the same track. Nineteen-year-old collegiate champion Talitha Diggs overcame an experienced field to win the women's 400 metres final in 50.22 seconds, with Kendall Ellis finishing second to reach her third world championships and Lynna Irby taking third.
"It was a great field so I just wanted to make sure to maintain my form, encage my core and push," said Diggs. As Felix completed her final race at the national championships, the 11-time Olympic medallist summed up her emotions as gratitude, relief and "a little bit, sadness."
"I think a lot about what's next," the 36-year-old told reporters. Her finish Saturday makes her a strong contender to be selected for a relay team to compete in what would be her 10th world championships. She told reporters she liked the mixed relay.
World record-holder Kendra Harrison clinched the 100 metres hurdles final in a world-leading 12.34 seconds, holding off Alaysha Johnson by a hundredth of a second with Alia Armstrong finishing third. Reigning champion Nia Ali did not run in the final after clinching her semi-final heat earlier in the day.
World champion Noah Lyles overcame a recent COVID-19 diagnosis to scorch the men's 200 metres preliminaries, while Tokyo bronze medallist Gabby Thomas and fan-favourite Sha'Carri Richardson advanced on the women's side. Lyles was the fastest man in the 200 metres heats in 19.95 seconds, with 100 metres world champion Christian Coleman, 18-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton and Tokyo silver medallist Kenny Bednarek winning their respective heats.
Lyles said COVID-19 kept him off the track from Monday through Saturday last week. "From what I can see I haven't had too much concern - at the same time, me and my coach are taking this race by race. He says if anything is looking abnormal, we're pulling out," said Lyles, who also collected bronze in Tokyo.
Fred Kerley, who won the 100 metres final the night before, also advanced. Thomas won her heat in 22.59, while Richardson, who had failed to advance in the 100 metres, finished a tenth of a second slower to reach to the semi-finals.
National collegiate indoor champion Abby Steiner produced the fastest time in 22.14, while world silver medallist Brittany Brown also advanced to the semi-final. Reigning world champion Grant Holloway and twice Olympian Devon Allen, who is juggling a career as a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) won their respective heats in the men's 110 metres hurdles opening round.
"That felt good. Just to come back and see what happens - I'm excited with everything," said Holloway, who took silver in Tokyo. Allen, who put the track world on notice when he produced the third-fastest all-time performance in New York earlier this month, said he would "take it easy" with the gridiron for a bit.
World and Olympic silver medallist Rai Benjamin advanced to the men's 400 metres hurdles final in 47.93 seconds. In the 1,500 metres, 24-year-old Sinclaire Johnson and Tokyo Olympians Cory McGee and Elle Purrier St. Pierre punched their tickets to the world championships.
Hometown hero Cooper Teare, who ran at the University of Oregon, led the men's side with Jonathan Davis and Josh Thompson also making the cut. Tokyo Olympian Hillary Bor clinched the men's 3,000 metres steeplechase final, with 2017 worlds bronze medallist and Rio silver medallist Evan Jager finishing second and Benard Keter taking third.
In the field event finals, Tokyo silver medallist Chris Nilsen won the men's pole vault with a 5.70-metre leap and Kara Winger won the women's javelin throw with 64.26 metres. Keturah Orji won the women's triple jump with a meet record 14.79 metres and Daniel Haugh won the men's hammer throw with a personal-best 80.18 metres.
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