Next eventWorld Athletics Continental TourLahti 202225 May 2022

Previews14 Apr 2022

Enthralling sprint clashes on tap at Mt SAC


Michael Norman, Fred Kerley and Rai Benjamin (© AFP / Getty Images)

An intriguing field in the men’s 200m highlights the USATF Golden Games on Saturday (16), while Olympic champion Valarie Allman will attempt to break her North American discus record.

The second stop in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Series will be held at the newly renovated Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California, as part of the Mt SAC Relays. While the meeting features some of the world’s top sprinters, they’re not all in their signature events. The men’s 200m in particular is shaping up as an early-season battle for bragging rights.

Fred Kerley, the Olympic silver medallist in the 100m, and Christian Coleman, the world champion in the 100m and runner-up at the recent World Indoor Championships in the 60m, will take on Rai Benjamin, the Olympic runner-up in the 400m hurdles, and Michael Norman, a 400m specialist who is versatile across the board.

The women’s 100m is just as loaded. Multiple Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who last year improved to 10.54, lines up for her first 100m of the year and will take on Olympic bronze medallist Gabby Thomas and Olympic 100m finalist Teahna Daniels, fresh off her victory into a strong headwind at the breezy USATF Bermuda Games last weekend.

Three other sprinters from that race are also in this field, including Olympic teammate Javianne Oliver, USA's Twanisha Terry and Aleia Hobbs, who ran 11.06 earlier this month. Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago and Briana Williams of Jamaica, both of whom competed in the world indoor 60m final last month, offer top international competition.

Meanwhile, USA’s Kenny Bednarek, the Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, will race the 400m, an event in which he is equally at ease. Bednarek will face Alison Dos Santos, the bronze medallist in the 400m hurdles from Brazil, and Michael Cherry, who was fourth at the Olympics in the 400m and finished 2021 strong with the Diamond League trophy. The American has run only a relay so far this season.

Kerley has run one race apiece this season at each distance: the 100m (9.99), the 200m (a world-leading 20.04) and the 400m (a world-leading 44.47), but has not competed since 26 March. Coleman ran a 200m in 20.25 last weekend, while Benjamin and Norman are opening their 2022 campaigns.

Joseph Amoah of Ghana, who has run 20.08 in the 200m, Jerome Blake of Canada and Jaron Flournoy of the USA round out the field for the race, which will be the last event of the elite meet.

The meeting, which is also part of the 2022 USATF Journey to Gold Outdoor Tour Series, also offers a preview of the men’s 100m at the upcoming US Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Veteran Michael Rodgers, Ameer Webb (who ran 10.04 last weekend), Isiah Young, Kyree King, Jarrion Lawson and Demek Kemp are among those hoping to make the team to compete at the World Championships, also in Eugene.

Devon Allen, the two-time Olympian for the USA who was fourth in Tokyo in the 110m hurdles, is entered in both the 100m and the hurdles. He recently announced he has signed to play professional football after this season.

Kendra Harrison, the Olympic silver medallist from the USA in the 100m hurdles, will compete against Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, who was fourth in Tokyo, fellow US Olympian Anna Cockrell, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Kristi Castlin, who was part of the US medal sweep in Rio, and British Olympian Cindy Sember.

Kendra Harrison after winning the 100m hurdles at the US Trials

Kendra Harrison after winning the 100m hurdles at the US Trials (© Getty Images)

The women’s 200m includes Gabby Thomas, the Olympic bronze medallist from the USA who opened her season in the 100m in Bermuda, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast, world silver medallist Brittany Brown, and two-time US Olympian Jenna Prandini, who is opening her season at the Golden Games.

In a battle between US sprinters, Shamier Little, the 400m hurdler who has also had success in the flat race, will run the 400m against 2017 world champion Phyllis Francis, world 400m hurdles champion Dalilah Muhammad and Olympian Kendall Ellis.

Raevyn Rogers, the world silver medallist from the USA, will run the women’s 800m while the men’s 800m includes Bryce Hoppel, the bronze medallist at the World Indoor Championships making his outdoor debut and fellow US Olympian Isaiah Jewett.

Allman picked up where she left off after her brilliant 2021 season, and then some. Last weekend in her second meet Allman broke her own continental record with a toss of 71.46m, the longest throw in the world in 30 years. She is now the No.15 thrower in history. Shadae Lawrence of Jamaica, who was seventh at the Olympics, and US Olympian Rachel Dincoff will challenge her in the Golden Games.

Daniel Stahl of Sweden, the world and Olympic champion, and teammate and Olympic silver medallist Simon Pettersson lead the men’s discus field. Stahl has thrown a world-leading 69.11m this season.

Daniel Stahl contests the discus at the Gyulai Memorial

Daniel Stahl contests the discus at the Gyulai Memorial (© Gyulai Istvan Memorial)

Raven Saunders, the Olympic silver medallist, is the top contender in the women’s shot put and will throw against Tokyo finalists Fanny Roos of Sweden and Portious Warren of Trinidad and Tobago. Darrell Hill, who was fourth at the US Olympic Trials in the men’s shot, will face Olympian Payton Otterdahl, who was third, and Josh Owotunde, who was fifth. Adrian Piperi has thrown 21.54m for fourth on the 2022 world list, while Hill has a toss of 21.25m to rank sixth.

Bridgett Williams of the USA is tied for the world lead in the women’s pole vault at 4.70m while Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, the 2016 Olympic champion who was fourth in Tokyo, has cleared 4.65m this season.

US high jumper Vashti Cunningham, who will be opening her outdoor season, has been competing at the Mt SAC Relays since she was in high school. The world bronze medallist will go up against Tyra Gittens of Trinidad and Tobago, who has the second-highest mark this year of 1.95m. She competed in the Olympics in the long jump.

Keturah Orji, a two-time Olympian for the USA in the triple jump, is coming off a seventh-place finish at the World Indoor Championships, while Carter Shell is the top US athlete this season in the men’s long jump.

Brooke Andersen and Gwen Berry, both Olympic finalists for the USA, will go head-to-head in the women’s hammer, where Andersen has the world-leading toss of 77.26m. Camryn Rogers has a throw of 74.80m for second.

Olympic finalists Rudy Winkler and Daniel Haugh of the USA will take on Humberto Mansilla and Gabriel Kehr of Chile in the men’s hammer.

Karen Rosen for World Athletics