The world record holders in both the women’s and men’s 400m hurdles headline the list of entrants for the event at the World Athletics Championships 2022, but there are significant concerns about one of them.
After breaking the world record with a 51.46 seconds performance to win the Olympic Games title in Tokyo last summer, McLaughlin opened the new season with a 51.61 secs run at a meet in Nashville, before posting a world-class 51.41 mark at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June to lower the world record for the third time.
The American will return to Hayward Field next week as the overwhelming favorite to add the world title to her Olympic crown and undoubtedly will also have another historic milestone on her mind. Read more: World record holder Karsten Warholm travels to USA, but will he competes at the World Championships?
Leading the list of medal prospects is defending champion and former world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad and Femke Bol who were also the front runners for the remaining podium spots heading into the Olympics last year.
Muhammad has run sparingly this season and will be hoping to recover from the hamstring injury that forced her to miss the USATF Championships.
The second-fastest woman on the all-time 400m hurdles list with the 51.58 seconds personal best she clocked to finish second to McLaughlin in Tokyo last summer, has the ability to make things interesting for her American compatriot, but she will need to be in her best form in Oregon. Her best time this year is 53.88.
The European record holder and third-fastest all-time with a PB of 52.03 from Tokyo, has a season-best of 52.27 from the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, but is poised to go even faster against a much stronger field at the world championships.
“I am still hoping to do something very special in Eugene,” said Bol after her win at the Diamond League meeting in Sweden. “When you see the results from Hayward, I am so excited to go there.”
Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton won the bronze medal at the last championships in Doha in 2019, but she heads to Oregon as the third-fastest from her nation this season.
Jamaica national champion Janieve Russell is the fastest of the trio this season at 53.63 for the 5th best in the world in 2022, while Shiann Salmon, who was second to Russell in Kingston last month owns a PB of 53.82, the 6th best in 2022.
Line Kloster, the Norway national record holder with 53.91, as well as USA’s 2015 silver medalist Shamier Little (53.92), Jessie Knight of Great Britain, and the Ukrainian pair of Anna Ryzhykova and Viktoriya Tkachuk will all be eyeing a place in the final.
The women’s 400m hurdles will go off on Tuesday 19 July.
On the men’s side, the form runner is Alison dos Santos of Brazil, the Olympic bronze medalist and fastest in 2022.
Two-time reigning world champion Karsten Warholm would have been the favorite to defend his title after his remarkable 45.94 secs performance to win the gold medal at the Olympics, but the Norwegian has fitness concerns heading into Oregon.
Warholm hasn’t completed a race this season after he suffered a hamstring injury and failed to get farther than the first hurdle in his season opener at the 2022 Rabat Diamond League in Morocco last month.
The 26-year-old remains hopeful of defending his title, but is also being realistic about his chance of medaling.
“As most people have realized, the level of 400 meters hurdles is very high at the moment,” Warholm said. “I do not want to wonder where I stand.
“It is difficult based on the injury break I have had – and the build-up that I am currently working on.
“We’ll see what I can do. I will at least do my very best. Then we will see in retrospect what it is about.”
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin has also had his setbacks through injuries and a bad bout of the coronavirus which causes him to miss a few weeks of training but did look comfortable when winning the US Championships last month.
Benjamin comes in as the second-fastest in the world this season at 47.04, while his 46.17 personal best is the No. 2 mark on the all-time list. The 24-year-old was defeated by Dos Santos at the Doha Diamond League meeting in May so he knows that if both he and Warholm are not at their best the world title could head to South America.
“It’s a really rough year for the 400m hurdles, but I wouldn’t count the event out,” the Tokyo runner-up said after taking the U.S. title. “I know (Warholm will) be fine. I just won’t believe anything until we all show up and line up.”
Dos Santos is the quickest in the world in 2022 after clocking a very strong 46.80 seconds in Stockholm at the end of last month.
The 22-year-old has improved significantly from his 7th place finish at the world championships in 2019 with his PB of 46.72 sitting third all-time on the world list.
Besides the main contenders, the men’s 400m hurdles will also include competitors who are talented enough to surprise the top trio.
US duo Trevor Bassitt (47.47) and Khalifah Rosser (47.65) who sit second and third on the world list this season after following Benjamin home at the U.S. Championships, have been having the season of their life so far and they will be seeking to extend their form when they return to Hayward Field.
Rasmus Magi of Estonia is also enjoying his finest season thus far after running a national record of 47.82 in Turku, Finland, last month, while 2017 world silver medalist Yasmani Copello (48.27) of Turkey and Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde (48.51) are also among the leading contenders for a spot in the final.
The heats of the men’s 400m hurdles will get underway on Saturday 16 July.