Christian Coleman and Sha’Carri Richardson will battle to stake their claims as the king and queen of American track this week in Eugene, Ore., as the 100-metre specialists headline the U.S. championships.
The top three finishers in the meeting who meet certain qualifying standards and reigning global title holders advance to the first world championships ever held in the United States at the same Hayward Field track starting July 15.
Returning world champion Coleman, who returned in January after serving an 18-month suspension for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules, said he was “the same guy” he was when he grabbed the 2019 global title in 9.76 seconds.
“I feel like it’s there,” Coleman told reporters after winning last week’s NYC Grand Prix 100m in 9.92.
“When you have a long layoff, obviously it’s going to affect you in some kind of way, so this whole season to me is a learning experience.”
He will be closely challenged by Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley and U.S. Olympic trials champion Trayvon Bromell in one of the highlights of the meeting, which begins Thursday.
Kerley won the distance in 9.92 at the Golden Gala Rome Diamond League meet earlier this month, while Bromell produced a wind-aided 9.75 at the UNF Invitational in April.
Richardson feels ‘phenomenal’
The ebullient fan-favourite Richardson, whose Olympic dreams ended early due to a 30-day suspension for a positive cannabis test, has declared for both the 100 and 200.
The 22-year-old finished 1-100th of a second off her personal best to win the 100 earlier this month in Florida in a wind-aided 10.73.
“I feel phenomenal,” Richardson told reporters after producing a 10.85 to finish second behind compatriot Aleia Hobbs at the NYC Grand Prix.
The meeting will also feature the last U.S. championship appearance by retiring Allyson Felix, the most decorated American athlete, in the 400m, and four-times world champion and twice Olympic triple jump gold medallist Christian Taylor, on a comeback mission after missing the Tokyo Games due to an injury.
The men’s 200 will be Tokyo bronze medallist Noah Lyles’ sole focus.
The women’s 400 hurdles will offer an epic rivalry between Sydney McLaughlin, who won gold in Tokyo in a world-record 51.46, and reigning world champion Dalilah Muhammad.
Another Oregon favourite, world shot put record holder Ryan Crouser will face world champion Joe Kovacs, with Tokyo silver medallist Raven Saunders up against world indoor silver medallist Chase Ealey on the women’s side.