SHE DIDN’T RACE OFTEN, but when she did… wow! In the history of our Women’s AOY award, a list of legends dating back to the ’74 season, none have competed fewer times in their all-conquering campaigns than Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone did in ’22. The fastest 400H runner in history lined up for just 6 finals, and that included her sole foray into the 100H as well as her gold medal 4×4 anchor in Eugene (a 47.91 leg that didn’t factor into her AOY selection).
That leaves just 4 finals in her specialty event and it’s hard to not wax too extravagantly about how unbelievable those finals were:
June 05 — At the Music City Track Carnival in Nashville, she blistered a 51.61. Close observers noted her steps got a little wonky mid-race, and it later turned out that hurdle 5 was set in the wrong place. Even so, it was the fastest time ever on U.S. soil, and only two performances in world history were faster: the first two places in the previous year’s Olympics when both SML and Dalilah Muhammad shattered the old World Record. “It was a great way to open up. It shows kind of where we’re at,” she said, adding, “You know, I didn’t know the hurdles were in the wrong place but it’s all good. Hopefully once they’re in the right place it will be an even better situation.”
June 25 — At the USATF Championships in Eugene, after running rounds of 54.11 and 52.90, McLaughlin-Levrone unleashed a powerful 51.41 World Record, an improvement of 0.05 on her Tokyo standard of 51.46. “Anything is possible any time I step on the track,” she said of the third global standard of her career. “The goal is to improve upon myself and push the limits.”
July 22 — At the World Championships, McLaughlin-Levrone once again graced the Hayward Field track with a World Record, this one a mind-numbing, jaw-dropping 50.68 that redefined perfection in the long hurdle event. Immediately after, she crouched on the track, then sat awhile, seemingly as shocked by the time as everyone else in the stadium.
She explained, “I was just taking a moment to process the lactic acid and I was taking a moment to really just enjoy what had taken place. Sometimes the race goes by and you forget what happened. I really just wanted to sit there for a moment and soak it all in before getting into the craziness of…