World records are no surprise to some of the biggest names in athletics – and one of Usain Bolt’s long-standing successes is under threat as the world championships begin.
American star Sydney McLaughlin-Levron believes “anything is possible” after her record-breaking 400m hurdles triumph at world gold in Eugene last year.
The 23-year-old will be joined by world 200m champion compatriot Noah Lyles in Boston on Saturday in the second World Athletics Indoor Tour of the season, where both athletes will compete over 60m.
“It wasn’t a huge surprise,” McLaughlin-Levrone said of her record.
“It was our goal all along. But it was a relief to be able to do it,” added the Olympic champion, speaking to the BBC World Service.
Unbeaten over 200m in 2022, Lyles convincingly defended his 200m title, breaking Michael Johnson’s 26-year-old national record to become the third fastest in history.
And he believes beating Jamaican sprint legend Bolt’s world record “will not be that difficult”.
Move possible as McLaughlin-Levron aims for ‘great things’
McLaughlin-Levrone, who was named the 2022 World Athlete of the Year alongside pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, produced her latest stunning run, beating her own 400m hurdles record by nearly three-quarters of a second to win world gold last year.
After improving her best time to 50.68 seconds in Eugene, she has now run five of the six fastest times in history.
Over the hurdles, she would have placed seventh in the 400m flat final.
The three-time world gold medalist’s stunning performance has left many wondering when she might set her sights on the event, where Marita Koch’s record of 47.6 seconds has stood for 37 years.
“Both have room to do big things and keep pushing their times,” said McLaughlin-Levrone, who faces world 200m champion Sherick Jackson on Saturday.
“I haven’t run a competitive 400 in a few years. Once we decide what’s best for 2023, we’ll do it.
“I think anything is possible. It’s just a matter of preparation, determination and putting the whole day together.”
‘Like a scene from a movie’ – Lyle chasing Bolt’s record
Lyles sprinted home in 19.31 seconds to lead the American clean sheet at the world finals and close in on eight-time Olympic champion Bolt’s record mark of 19.19 seconds set in 2009.
Not lacking in confidence, the 25-year-old Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist said he knew “three weeks in advance” that he would win the world title.
“I always knew this was my race to win,” Lyles said.
“I remember I went down and prayed and suddenly I heard a crowd. I looked at the clock and I just went crazy, lost my mind, it was like a scene from a movie.”
Only Bolt and the Jamaican’s former team-mate Johan Blake (19.26s) stand between Lyle and history as he eyes the fastest 200m performances ever.
On his pursuit of Bolt’s record, Lyles said: “Personally, I know it’s crazy to say, but I don’t think it’s going to be that hard.”
He added: “I say that because I know my way around. The work I did in 2022 wasn’t as big as it could have been, we were late in training more than we should have been.
“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 said, all signs point to potentially seismic moments when Lyle and McLaughlin-Levron step out for the start of this year’s World Championships in Budapest in August.