Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Noah Lyles target world records in 2023
World records come as no surprise to some of the biggest names in athletics – and one of Usain Bolt’s longstanding brands is in jeopardy as a world championship year begins.
American star Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone believes “anything is possible” after winning world gold with her record-breaking 400m hurdles triumph in Eugene last year.
The 23-year-old will be joined by compatriot Noah Lyles, world 200m champion, in Boston on Saturday for the second World Athletics Indoor Tour event of the season, which will see both athletes compete in the 60m.
“It wasn’t a big surprise,” McLaughlin-Levrone said of her record run.
“It was our goal all along. But it was a relief to have achieved it,” the Olympic champion added, speaking to BBC World Service.
Lyles was unbeaten in the 200m in 2022 and vigorously defended his 200m title when he broke Michael Johnson’s 26-year-old national record and became the third fastest man over the distance in history.
And he believes it “won’t be that hard” to break Jamaican sprint legend Bolt’s world record.
A move possible as McLaughlin-Levrone is aiming for ‘great things’
McLaughlin-Levrone, who was named 2022 World Athlete of the Year along with pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, showed off her latest amazing run when she smashed her own 400m hurdles record by almost ¾ of a second and clinched world gold last year.
She improved her best time in Eugene to 50.68 seconds and has now set five of the six fastest times in history.
That time over the hurdles would have given her seventh place in the 400-meter flat final.
The stunning performances of the three-time world gold medalist have many wondering when she might turn their attention to the event where Marita Koch’s record of 47.6 seconds has stood for 37 years.
“There’s room in both of them to do great things and keep improving my times,” said McLaughlin-Levrone, who will meet 200m world champion Shericka Jackson on Saturday.
“I haven’t raced the 400 competitively in a couple of years. Once we’ve decided what’s best for 2023, we’ll do that.
“I think anything is possible. It’s just a matter of preparation, determination and putting all the pieces together on the day.”
“Like a scene from a movie” – Lyles chases Bolt’s record
Lyles finished in 19.31 seconds, leading a clean win for the Americans in the World Finals and getting closer to eight-time Olympic gold medalist Bolt’s record of 19.19 seconds set in 2009.
The 25-year-old, a bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, who doesn’t lack confidence, said he knew “three weeks in advance” that he would win the world title.
“I always knew this was my race to win,” said Lyles.
“I remember coming down and praying and suddenly I heard the crowd. I looked at the clock and just went crazy, crazy, it was like a scene from a movie.”
Only Bolt and the Jamaican’s former teammate Yohan Blake (19.26s) stand between Lyle’s and history as he targets the fastest 200m performances of all time.
Chasing Bolt’s record, Lyles said, “Personally, I know it’s crazy to say that, but I don’t think it’s going to be that hard.”
He added: “I say this because I know my own journey. The work I did in 2022 wasn’t as big as it could have been, we held back in training more than we should have.
“Now that we have a new benchmark, we attack it like I’m a 19.3 runner – and I’m forced to train like one.”
That means all signs are pointing to potentially seismic moments when Lyles and McLaughlin-Levrone line up at this year’s World Championships in Budapest in August.