USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix Event by Event Preview

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix, the third meeting of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold level series, is set to take place this weekend.

The event kicks off on Friday (17) with a distance festival, highlighted by a highly competitive men’s 5000m race. This race is expected to be paced well under the Olympic standard of 13:05 and features several athletes who have consistently run sub-13-minute times. World record holder and Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei will start his track season in the 5000 meters. Cheptegei will face Olympic 10,000 meters champion Selemon Barega, world cross country champion Jacob Kiplimo, and Mo Ahmed from Canada.

Women's 200m

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone will compete in her second individual race this season in the women’s 200 meters at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix. The US star ended her 2023 season by winning the 400 meters in 48.74 at the US Championships in Eugene, moving to 10th on the world all-time list. An injury forced her to withdraw from the World Championships in Budapest.

McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meters hurdles, improved her own world record to 51.46 in Tokyo 2021. In June 2022, she broke her own world record again, clocking 51.41 at the US Championships in Eugene. A few weeks later, she smashed her world record with 50.68, becoming the first athlete to dip under 51 seconds. She started her 2024 season with two wins at the Occidental Invitational in Los Angeles, in the 100 meters hurdles in 12.71 and the 200 meters in 22.38.

McLaughlin-Levrone will face Gabby Thomas, Abby Steiner, and Jenna Prandini.

Thomas won the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo 2021 and the world silver medal in the 200 meters in Budapest 2023. She won the US title in 2024, improving her PB to 21.60. Steiner won the NCAA outdoor title in 21.80 in 2021 and two world gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, finishing fifth in the 200 meters at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. Prandini won two US titles in the 200 meters in 2015 and 2018 and the world title in the 4x100 relay in Eugene 2022.

Women’s 100 meters:

Thomas will also run the 100 meters 20 minutes before the 200 meters start, going head-to-head against Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Twanisha Terry.

Ta Lou started her 2024 season with a win in the 100 meters in 10.91 at the Jamaica Invitational in Kingston. The Ivorian sprinter won three world medals and improved the African record in the 100 meters to 10.72 at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in 2022. Terry won two consecutive world gold medals in the 4x100 relay in Eugene 2022 and Budapest 2023, improving her PBs to 10.82 in the 100 meters and 22.17 in the 200 meters.

Men’s 100 meters:

Two-time world medalist Letsile Tebogo will run his first 100 meters race of the season. Tebogo won two consecutive world under-20 gold medals in Nairobi 2021 and Cali 2022, the silver medal in the 100 meters in 9.88, and the bronze medal in the 200 meters in 19.81. This year, the 20-year-old Botswanan sprinter set the world all-time best in the 300 meters in Pretoria in 30.69 and improved his PB in the 400 meters to 44.29. He recently finished second to Courtney Lindsey in 19.71 into a headwind of -1.5 m/s in the 200 meters in Nairobi and won the 4x400 relay in 2:59.11 at the World Relays in Nassau.

Tebogo will face Olympic silver medalist Kenny Bednarek, who showed his impressive form this year by winning the 4x100 relay at the World Relays in Nassau and the 200 meters at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Doha with a world-leading time of 19.67. Ackeem Blake aims to win the 100 meters for the second time in Los Angeles after taking victory last year in 9.89.

Women’s 400 meters:

World 400 meters champion Marileidy Paulino will go head-to-head against world 800 meters gold medalist Mary Moraa and Olympic 800 meters gold medalist Athing Mu.

Paulino seeks to win for the second consecutive year in Los Angeles. The Dominican Republic athlete took victory at this meeting last year in 48.98, her second fastest time ever. She ran faster when she won the world title in 48.76 in Budapest. This year, she won two Diamond League races in Xiamen in 50.08 and in Suzhou in 50.89.

Moraa started her season with wins in the 400 meters at the All-African Games in 50.57 and in the 800 meters in 1:57.91 at the Diamond League meeting. Mu will open her season in the 400 meters. The US athlete finished third at the World Championships in Budapest in 1:56.81 and won the 800 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in 1:54.97 in Eugene last September. She set her 400 meters PB of 49.57 at the NCAA Championships in Eugene in 2021.

Men’s 400 meters:

Michael Norman will take on three-time Olympic medalist Kirani James and Vernon Norwood in the men’s 400 meters. Norman is returning to the 400 meters after focusing on the 100 meters last year. The US athlete set the third fastest time in the world this season with 44.21 in Los Angeles. He won the 400 meters title in Eugene 2022 and the Olympic 4x100 gold medal in Tokyo.

James won a full set of medals at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships and claimed three Diamond League titles in 2011, 2022, and 2023. Norwood won the Olympic gold medal in the 4x400 relay in Tokyo and finished fourth in the 400 meters and first in the 4x400 relay at the World Championships in Budapest.

Women’s 400 meters hurdles:

Former world record holder Dalilah Muhammad will face Anna Cockrell. Muhammad won the world title in Doha in a former world record of 52.16, the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo in 51.58, and the world bronze medal in Eugene 2022 in 53.13. She started her 2024 season with a fifth place in 55.77 at the Jamaica Invitational.

Cockrell won the 100 meters hurdles and 400 meters hurdles at the NCAA Finals in 2021. She finished second at the Jamaica Invitational in 53.76.

Men’s shot put:

Two-time world champion Joe Kovacs will compete against Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 world champion Tom Walsh from New Zealand in a men’s shot put showdown. The event takes place at the same venue where Ryan Crouser set the world record of 23.56 meters. Kovacs set the third best performance in the world with 22.01 meters.

Walsh won the world indoor silver medal in Glasgow last March and the national title in Wellington with 21.51 meters.

Both Kovacs and Walsh aim to surpass the world seasonal best of 22.95 meters set by Leonardo Fabbri in Savona.

Pole vault:

Two-time world champion Sam Kendricks will go head-to-head against US record holder KC Lightfoot and Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen.

Lightfoot and Kendricks are ranked fourth and fifth in the world all-time list. Kendricks won the world indoor silver medal in Glasgow with 5.90 meters last March and finished second in the first two Diamond League competitions of the season in Xiamen and Suzhou with the same height of 5.82 meters.

Lightfoot improved the US record held by Kendricks by one cm with 6.07 meters last year. The US vaulter set a seasonal best of 5.90 meters at the Drake Relays in Des Moines.

Nilsen won the US indoor title with 6.00 meters in Albuquerque last March and finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow. Nilsen won the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo 2021 with 5.97 meters, silver in Eugene 2022 with 5.94 meters, and bronze in Budapest 2023 with 5.95 meters.

Sandi Morris will headline the women’s pole vault. Morris won the Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and three world outdoor silver medals. She finished fifth at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow last March.

Women’s 1500 meters:

Olympic 5000 meters and 10,000 meters champion Sifan Hassan will compete against world 1500 meters medalist Diribe Weltej in the final race of the meeting. Hassan ran 14:58.53 in the 5000 meters in her first track race of the season in Los Angeles since the Tokyo Marathon, where she finished fourth in 2:18:05. The Dutch athlete set the European record in the 5000 meters with 14:13.42 at the London Diamond League meeting last year.

Men’s 1500 meters:

Kenya’s Reynold Cheruiyot will face 17-year-old Australian rising star Cameron Myers and Ollie Hoare in the men’s 1500 meters. Cheruiyot started his 1500 meters season with a win in Nairobi in 3:31.96, followed by a third place in 3:32.56 in Doha. Myers set the world under-18 record of 3:33.26 in Chorzow last year and ran 3:33.30 in Sydney and 3:52.44 at the Maurie Plant meeting in Melbourne. Hoare set the 1500 meters Oceanian record of 3:29.41 at the Bislett Games this year.

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