Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone plans to race 400m hurdles at Olympic Trials, coach Bobby Kersee says

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone plans to enter strictly the 400m hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials for Paris next month, returning to her signature event after racing the flat 400m in an injury-shortened 2023.

One of McLaughlin-Levrone's agents and her coach, Bobby Kersee, confirmed the 400m hurdles plan for trials, which are June 21-30 in Eugene, Oregon. The top three in the June 30 final are in line to make the team for Paris.

Kersee said McLaughlin-Levrone is going back to the hurdles this summer "because that's her main event. That's what we want to defend our Olympic championship in."

"I think Sydney's love is the 400m hurdles, and so that's the number one event," Kersee said. "My job is to make sure that she gets ready for the one that she wants to do the most."

McLaughlin-Levrone won the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics and lowered the world record on four different occasions between 2021 and 2022, bringing it down from 52.16 seconds to 50.68.

After the 2022 season, McLaughlin-Levrone said she wanted to expand to the flat 400m to see what was possible in that event while not giving up the 400m hurdles.

She did not contest any hurdles races in 2023. McLaughlin-Levrone won the U.S. title in the flat 400m last July in 48.74 seconds, the world's fastest time over all of 2023 and the second-fastest time in American history.

She planned to race the flat 400m at the world championships last August before announcing her withdrawal eight days before the meet due to a small PCL tear in her left knee that led to patella issues and tendonitis.

She competed for the first time this year on April 20, has raced three times this spring in events outside the 400m hurdles and is on the entry list for the 200m at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday.

NBC, and the NBC Sports app air Los Angeles Grand Prix coverage from 3-4:30 p.m. ET. Peacock coverage runs from 3-5 p.m.

McLaughlin-Levrone may also race a flat 400m at the USATF New York City Grand Prix on June 9, Kersee said.

McLaughlin-Levrone has contested complementary events to prepare for the 400m hurdles before. In 2021, she competed in the 100m hurdles five times leading up to the Olympic Trials, where she broke the 400m hurdles world record for the first time.

Femke Bol of the Netherlands won the 400m hurdles at worlds last August in 51.70 seconds in McLaughlin-Levrone's absence. Bol is the second-fastest woman in history in the event with a personal best of 51.45.

McLaughlin-Levrone, Bol and American Dalilah Muhammad, the 2016 Olympic champion and former world record holder, combine to own the 19 fastest times in history in the event. They made up the podium in Tokyo and could all be in the Paris Olympic final.

Kersee said that McLaughlin-Levrone, if she qualifies for the Olympics and is healthy in Paris, will also be available to run the mixed-gender 4x400m relay (final Aug. 3) and the women's 4x400m relay (final Aug. 10).

The 400m hurdles rounds at the Olympics are on Aug. 4 (first round), Aug. 6 (semifinals) and Aug. 8 (final). Nobody has won back-to-back Olympic titles in the women's 400m hurdles, which debuted at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

McLaughlin-Levrone was part of gold-medal women's 4x400m relays at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Championships. She has never contested the mixed 4x400m, which made its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

USA Track and Field coaches decide which athletes run relays at the Olympics.