Bobby Kersee Explains Why Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone Doesn’t Race More

By Chris Chavez

June 1, 2024

Since becoming the 400m hurdles Olympic champion in 2021, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has never competed in the 400m hurdles at a Diamond League meet. Last year, she only competed in the 400m at the Paris Diamond League in preparation for the U.S. Championships. This year, she will not compete in any Diamond League meets before the Paris Olympics, according to her coach Bobby Kersee.

What You Need To Know:

– McLaughlin-Levrone hurdled for the first time since 2022 and opened up with a world-leading 52.70 at the Edwin Moses Legends Meet, which notched an Olympic qualifying mark for Paris.

– Kersee said they treated the race as a practice run and kept her within “the safe zone” and opted to run 15 steps between hurdles instead of 14 steps.

– Kersee said he was happy with McLaughlin’s 22.07 victory in the 200m at the Los Angeles Grand Prix two weeks ago.

He said, “I know Sydney can sprint. She actually wanted to run 200s more last year but I wanted her to concentrate on the 400m first and then back down into the 200ms. With the 400m hurdles and the 100m hurdles, I know she’s going to get turnover work. She has sprinters that she’s working out with on our team. I want to cautiously get into the 200. It was our home track. She knew the track. She was able to come from home to the track and a home environment. The elements were right for her…Can she go faster in the 200m? Barring injury, yes.”

– Kersee was asked about his decision-making process as to how he decides when his athletes will or will not race.

He said, “First, it’s based on health. Then, it’s just based on performance and what’s needed. With all due respect to Europe, I like America. I like to race at home as much as possible. I get criticized for not going to Europe but I coach United States athletes to put them on teams. You can go to Italy, France, Germany or whatever. Same thing – we can go to Atlanta, New York or wherever. For us, it’s a 14-hour or seven-hour time difference, language change and food change. It’s kind of difficult for us to go to Europe and base camp over there and then come back home and then make our American teams and stay healthy. As many races as we can get like here at Morehouse with the Edwin Moses Meet and keep our athletes competitive here in the United States. And then if we go to Europe when it’s reasonable for us to go, I think it’s better for our mental and physical health of our athletes.”

– He added that McLaughlin-Levrone will not race in Europe before the Paris Olympics.

– McLaughlin-Levrone will run the 400m at the New York City Grand Prix on June 9th.

An Update On Athing Mu

– Olympic 800m champion Athing Mu was scheduled to run the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic last weekend but withdrew due to hamstring soreness. She has not raced since last September’s Prefontaine Classic, where she broke her own American record in 1:54.97.

– Kersee says Mu has resumed workouts and will join his team for a training camp in Atlanta this upcoming week. He says she may do time trials with some of her training partners in practice before the U.S. Olympic Trials start or could enter in a low-key all-comers meet in California or Arizona as a final tune-up.

– Kersee hears the backlash to holding back his athletes but remains steadfast in his ways that it’s to maximize on the athletes’ chances of qualifying for the national team at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“We need to keep emphasizing how hard it is to make our Olympic team and how much demand it takes on our American athletes. With the Diamond League schedule, we have to travel across the Atlantic or travel across the Pacific or whatever and then come back home. The European athletes don’t have to do that as much. When it comes down to Americans and Jamaicans, it’s a bit tougher for us due to the travel schedule. You see some of the American athletes at the beginning of the year and we don’t feel as sharp. You look at a couple of the Jamaican athletes and they’re not as sharp right now. We have to find those moments to train and travel or create some good competitions on American soil.”

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.