Of the seven-track and field medals won by Team USA at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, female athletes stood out as they clinched five golds.
Olympic stars Allyson Felix, Athing Mu, and Sydney McLaughlin are expected to play a huge role in ensuring the USA dominate their home World Athletics Championships in Oregon from July 15-22.
But first up they will be looking to qualify strongly during the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships that will be used to pick the nation’s team to the Worlds.
Here are some of the female stars to keep an eye on over the four days of competition – starting Thursday 23 June – at the Hayward Field track.
One of the biggest track stars in the history of athletics, Allyson Felix will run in her final USA outdoor national championships, where she hopes she can earn her ticket to one final world championships.
At the Tokyo Games in 2021, Felix won her 11th career medal, surpassing Carl Lewis, to become the most decorated American track and field at the Olympics.
The 36-year-old, who announced her plans to retire at the end of this season, wants to boost her 18 medals at the world championships before focussing her efforts on advocacy and mentorship.
This week, she, her sponsor, and the non-profit group &Mother will provide free childcare to athletes, coaches, and staff at the U.S. Track and Field championships.
“It’s just a way really to … say we can show up and support women, and they don’t have to choose between motherhood and anything else,” Felix who will line up in the women’s 400m told NPR.org.
The seven-time Olympic gold medallist also announced that she is now the owner and board member of Voice in Sport.
The advocacy and mentorship company will connect young female athletes with mentors who practice professional sports and experts in mental health, nutrition, and sport science.
The 400m women’s hurdles could pit two Olympic champions: Sydney McLaughlin, who took gold in Tokyo, and the reigning world champion Dalilah Muhammad. Muhammad won gold at Rio 2016 and silver in Tokyo.
McLaughlin, who boasts three of the four fastest times in history, is favoured to book her ticket top. The world record holder opened the season with a blistering 51.31 in Nashville.
Muhammad, on the other hand, hasn’t run since May 2022 due to injury, and has been granted a wildcard for the Worlds.
She is however expected to run the heats.
We have only seen Athing Mu race once this season at the Diamond League, a run that gave a glimpse into her 2022 form.
Mu, who alongside Felix, McLaughlin, and Muhammad, were part of the victorious U.S. 4x 400m relay team in Tokyo, won the 800m in Rome in a world-leading time of 1:57.01.
She ran the sixth-fastest 600m ever of 1:22.74 at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia in April, then topped the 400m at the Puerto Rico Athletics Classic on 12 May in 50.42.
The reigning Olympic champion withdrew from Prefontaine Classic due to covid and is “still getting back to the rhythm of things”.
But that should not stop Mu, who just turned 20, from punching a ticket to her first world championships.
Read more: Athing Mu: Record-breaker, Olympic champion and just getting started
Another youngster to keep an eye on is Sha’Carri Richardson.
The 22-year-old, who won the 100m at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2021, but missed the Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, is certain to be a big draw for fans at the championships.
The sprint star is a favourite for the podium which will earn her a ticket to her first major event.
America’s fourth fastest woman in history over the 100m aims to impress and continue her strong start to the season after her two-second place finishes at the Prefontaine Classic on 28 May and at the New York Grand Prix on 12 June.
Also keep an eye on the field…
Coming off their Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, pole vaulter Katie Nageotte and Valarie Allman, the discus thrower, will also be in action at the Hayward Field.
Nageotte has struggled for motivation since clinching gold in Tokyo as she seeks to repeat her performance from the Olympic Trials where she advanced at the top. The world indoor silver medallist finished fourth at the Diamond League in Rome.
American record holder Allman is in great shape and is an Oregon favourite. She edged out the 2016 Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic at the Diamond League stop in Paris hauling a meet record of 68.68m.
The full schedule for the USATF 2022 Outdoor Championships is available here.