Hurdle queen Sydney McLaughlin’s experiment in the 400 metres flat appeared to be paying off on Saturday, when she cruised to victory at the NYC Grand Prix in 49.51 seconds, while Noah Lyles showed no loss of form to thrash the 200m field.
American McLaughlin wrested the lead at the halfway point from compatriot and 200m Olympic bronze medallist Gabby Thomas, who finished second in 50.29. Jamaican Charokee Young took third in 51.02.
“The flat is definitely harder in my opinion. It’s hard to kind of figure out your cadence mid-race. At least with hurdles I kind of know where I’m at. It’s a different kind of pain but the challenging good one,” McLaughlin said.
The 23-year-old took a huge chunk out of her own 400m hurdles world record last year to win the World Championship in 50.68 and become the first woman to break the 51-second barrier in the event.
On the same night, she eyed new territory and told reporters she was considering a foray into the 400m flat.
McLaughlin finished second in her 400m season debut at the Paris Diamond League earlier this month and said she had deployed a new technique to achieve her personal best at the Continental Tour Gold event in New York.
“Compared to the Diamond League race in Paris, I went out a little more conservatively to kind of feel the back end a little bit better. I did a good job of that,” she told reporters. “Some things to clean up, but a PR is a PR.”
Later in the day at Icahn Stadium, Lyles exploded off the blocks and never ceded the lead to cross the finish in 19.83 and tie retired great Usain Bolt’s record for the most sub-20-second finishes in the 200m.
Issam Asinga of Suriname took second in 20.25 and American Elijah Morrow finished third in 20.30.
“The main reason I came out here was to make sure that I get up to top speed today. Especially in that first 100. I was really proud of that moment,” said Lyles, who retained his 200m world crown in a U.S. sweep last year.
“A little bit of hitch coming off the turn but nothing to be worried about.”
The ebullient Olympic bronze medallist rolled through the Big Apple less than two weeks before the U.S. trials kick off on July 6 in Eugene, Oregon.
The World Championships begin in Budapest on Aug. 19.
American Olympic and World Champion Athing Mu cruised to another win in the 800m a stone’s throw from her hometown of Trenton, New Jersey, while Briton Zharnel Hughes broke a three-decade-old British record to win the 100m in 9.83 seconds.
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