NYC Grand Prix Takeaways: Zharnel Hughes’ 100m Shocker, Athing Mu Opens Up

By Chris Chavez

June 26, 2023

The second edition of the New York City Grand Prix is in the books and it may have been one of the final meets for many of the United States’ top stars before the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the meet:

Zharnel Hughes Surprises Himself With A British Record

The biggest surprise of the New York City Grand Prix came in the men’s 100m as Zharnel Hughes clocked a 9.83s victory to win, set a new British record and the second-fastest time in Icahn Stadium history behind Usain Bolt’s 9.72s then-world record in 2008. The previous British record was 9.87s from the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart. Hughes’ previous personal best was 9.91s from June 2018.

“I wrote this down in my book this morning: I’m going to run 9.83 or 9.89, 9.91 at the slowest,” Hughes told NBC’s Lewis Johnson after the race. (He later shared the image on Instagram.)

There has been plenty of excitement around Hughes’ potential since he was a teenager. I remember interviewing him as a rising star at Kingston College and the buzz around him potentially being the successor to Bolt in the sprints. Hughes has represented Great Britain at three world championships and one Olympics but has never come away with an individual medal. He has two World Championship relays medals.

No British man has medaled at the world championships in the 100m since Darren Campbell in 2003. Hughes, who trains under Bolt’s former coach Glen Mills, is the new world leader and the Brits’ best hope at a medal in two decades.

Zharnel Hughes at NYC Grand PrixZharnel Hughes at NYC Grand Prix

Johnny Zhang/@jzsnapz

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone Gets Better At The 400m

World and Olympic 400m hurdles champion Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is making progress in her foray into the 400m this season. In Paris, she went out in 22.66s for the first 400m before tying up and finishing in a personal best of 49.71s. (Olympic silver medalist Marileidy Paulino won in 49.12.) She played it a bit more conservatively in New York.

She split 23.74s for the first 200m and then came away with the win in a personal best of 49.51s – which moved her to No. 8 on the U.S. all-time list.

McLaughlin-Levrone said that she will make a decision on whether she will run the flat 400m or defend her 400m hurdles title after the U.S. Outdoor Championships.

Bonus: Kudos to Gabby Thomas for running 50.29s for second place – just an hour after running 11.08s for the 100m. She told us that she did it to continue building her case for being considered for the relay pool at the World Championships. Don’t forget that she ran 49.68s earlier in the season, which is the third-fastest by an American behind Britton Wilson’s 49.13 and McLaughlin-Levrone.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone at NYC Grand PrixSydney McLaughlin-Levrone at NYC Grand Prix

Johnny Zhang/@jzsnapz

Athing Mu Opens Up With A 1:58.73

This was a pretty late start to the season and just her first race since last July’s World Championships final but Athing Mu showed no signs of rust as she dominated the field and won the women’s 800m in 1:58.73. The most impressive part of the race was just how she bided her time with an easy 59.57s first lap before stepping on the gas for the final 400m and closing in 28.64s.

After the race, CITIUS MAG’s Katelyn Hutchison asked Mu what she’s been up to during the break.

“I’ve been enjoying my environment,” Mu said. “I’ve been enjoying being 20 – just turned 21 – and enjoying LA. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a new agency and we’ve been exploring a lot of different events and meeting new people. So that’s been very enjoyable. I feel like we’re focusing on myself outside of the track. That’s what we’ve been locked in on in the past couple of months.”

Since she is the reigning 800m world champion and has her spot assured for Budapest, Coach Bobby Kersee said Mu will race the 1500m at the U.S. Championships. She has not run a 1500m race since running 4:16.06 in April 2021 during her freshman year at Texas A&M

“It’s a day-by-day thing,” Mu said. “Bobby has a really big vision for what he sees me at and my potential. He brings it to me. We talk about it and then we make a decision on whether we’ll be able to do it.”

Athing Mu at NYC Grand PrixAthing Mu at NYC Grand Prix

Johnny Zhang/@jzsnapz

Easy Peasy For Noah Lyles

Major credit to Noah Lyles for racing as much as he does. This was his 16th race of the year and his second time under 20 seconds for 200m this season. With his 19.83s victory, he tied Usain Bolt for the most sub-20s performances in history at 34 each. He’s just 25 years old so he’s going to pull quite a bit ahead.

“I dropped my first 19s when I was 19 years old,” Lyles said. “It’s been seven years so double that…if I keep running the same amount of 200s…we’re at like 34…so 68 – if I keep going another 7 years, which I plan to.”

Abby Steiner, Christian Coleman Moving To South Carolina

In their post-race interviews with Katelyn, U.S. 200m champion Abby Steiner and former 100m world champion Christian Coleman shared they will follow coach Tim Hall to Columbia, South Carolina after he was named the head coach of South Carolina’s track and field program. He just wrapped up five years as the associate head coach at Kentucky under Lonnie Greene.

“I’m excited,” Steiner says. “Obviously, I’m very sad to be leaving Lexington. I feel like I grew up so much there. From freshman year until now, there’s been a lot that’s gone on in that city. I feel like it’s going to be a beautiful next chapter. I feel like it’s going to make me feel like I’m entering my professional era as I’m getting out of my college town.”

Steiner won the 200m in a season's best of 22.19s, which was her fourth victory in five 200m races this season. Coleman finished third in the men’s 100m in 10.02s.

What comes next?

With just 11 days until the start of the U.S. Championships in Eugene, many of the top stars will now put the final touches on their training before the team for the world championships is determined from July 6-10.

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.