By Amy Tennery
EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) – The United States utterly dominated the World Championships medal table, picking up 13 golds across the 10-day global athletics event, as their men’s track team recovered from a disappointing Tokyo Olympics.
Sydney McLaughlin produced the Americans’ most memorable moment when she shattered her own world record in the 400 metres hurdles, delighting the home crowd as the United States hosted for the first time in quiet, quirky Eugene, Oregon.
But the American men undoubtedly earned the title of “most improved,” sweeping the 100 and 200 metres podiums before Michael Norman won 400 metres gold, a year after they failed to collect a single individual track gold in Tokyo.
“It has been a great championships overall for the team USA. Especially on the men’s side after some disappointing championships it was like a turnaround,” said Norman, who suffered a hamstring injury in Doha and failed to reach the podium in Tokyo.
“I think there is a huge potential of the whole team for the growth.”
Asked to explain the remarkable improvement, USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel gave credit to the organisation’s investment in sports science, medicine and high-performance plans.
“Our team is laser-focused on supporting our athletes and the coaches with their needs, putting the foundational programs together for them,” he told reporters.
Kenny Bednarek, who finished second in Tokyo and in Eugene in the 200 metres, said he believed he and his team mates would continue to improve.
“We have great athletes in the team,” he told reporters. “We continue to be stronger every single year.”
It was the third straight year the United States topped the table and their 33 overall medals in Eugene broke the World Championship record.
Ethiopia finished a distant second with four trips to the top of the podium and 10 medals overall.
While the U.S. women were shut out of the 100 metres and 200 metres podiums, they added to the total in the early field events, reaching the top of the podium in pole vault for the first time since 2001, when Stacy Dragila took gold.
Chase Ealey won the United States’ first women’s shot put world title, while Brooke Andersen took hammer gold in the absence of 2019 champion and compatriot DeAnna Price.
They closed out the meet with their third successive title in the 4×400 metres relay, with McLaughlin producing a remarkable 47.91 final leg.
“I am the oldest on the team,” said the 22-year-old. “I am so proud. This is the next generation of team USA stepping up to the plate.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery and Mitch Phillips in Eugene, Oregon, additional reporting by Gene Cherry and Nathan Frandino; Editing by Robert Birsel)