BUDAPEST (August 11) – Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the 2023 world leader in the 400m and gold medal favorite, announced on Friday that she will miss the World Championships in Budapest due to a “minor knee issue.” The global showcase is set to begin next week, and her absence leaves the women’s 400m title race wide open.
Why is Sydney McLaughlin-Levorne not competing at the World Athletics Championships?
McLaughlin-Levorne will not run in Budapest because her current knee injury will not recover in time before the start of the world championships, which will start in a week’s time. The American decided not compete at the worlds because she also wants to be fully fit for the the Olympics in 2024.
“After consulting with my doctors and coaches, I need to take care of a minor knee issue so that I can be fully healthy for next years’ Paris Olympics,” She posted on her Instagram page. “I look forward to seeing everyone back on the track soon!”
The injury also ended McLaughlin-Levrone’s season, with her coach Bobby Kersee, who also coaches world and Olympic 800m champion Athing Mu, revealing that she will not race again in 2023 – according to NBC Sports.
American sprint legend Michael Johnson, the former 200m and 400m world record holder said the news of the 400m hurdles world record holder, “doesn’t surprise me.” Johnson also spoke about the backlash facing coach Kersee.
People should stop assuming Kersee forces these decisions on athletes. Athing and Syd have demonstrated maturity and intelligence to make decisions with their coach. And both have given indications that they’re not interested in competing a lot. But because Kersee enjoys the…
— Michael Johnson (@MJGold) August 11, 2023
“People should stop assuming Kersee forces these decisions on athletes. Athing and Syd have demonstrated maturity and intelligence to make decisions with their coach,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
“And both have given indications that they’re not interested in competing a lot. But because Kersee enjoys the villain role he provides cover for the backlash when people are disappointed.”
McLaughlin-Levrone’s impressive progress in the 400m dash this year includes a personal best time of 48.74, which is the fastest in the world this season and just shy of the American record. – Read more: McLaughlin-Levrone scares American record with 48.74secs at USA Championships
This season, she made impressive progress by clocking in remarkable times of 49.71, 49.51, 49.79, and 49.60. Those performances, which were all faster than her previous personal best of 50.07 secs in 2018, had placed her firmly at the top of the gold medal contenders in the event at the world championships.
With McLaughlin-Levrone injured, who is now the 400m favorite?
The withdrawal of McLaughlin-Levrone from the 400m race presents an unexpected opportunity for other contenders.
Among the leading gold medal candidates are Olympic and world silver medalist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic, USA’s Britton Wilson, Irish NCAA champion Rhasidat Adeleke, Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek, and the 2019 world champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain, who is slowly rounding back into form since returning from suspension.
Defending champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who recently returned after having a baby, will also compete in the event, though she is not considered one of the likely medal contenders.
McLaughlin-Levrone’s absence from the 400m is also a significant blow to the U.S. team and adds intrigue to the competition. Her decision to compete in the flat 400m instead of the 400m hurdles, where she holds the world record with a super-fast time of 50.68 seconds, had already drawn global attention.
USA will now look to the young team of Wilson and Talitha Diggs to be the American flag barrier in the event, while Lynna Irby-Jackson, who finished fourth at the USATF Outdoor Championships last month, is expected to replace McLaughlin-Levrone in the event.