Los Angeles Grand Prix loses star power as Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone pulls out

Gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin, of the United States, walks the track after winning the final.
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone carries the U.S. flag on her shoulders after winning gold in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., in July. On the advice of her coach, McLaughlin-Levrone will not compete at the Los Angeles Grand Prix.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

When plans for the Los Angeles Grand Prix were announced, it promised competitions featuring some of track and field’s biggest names. That star power took a hit Tuesday when Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone said she would no longer compete at the May 27 meet at UCLA, citing the decision of her coach, Bobby Kersee.

Kersee, the iconic sprints coach who is serving as a co-organizer of the Grand Prix, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

“Regrettably, I won’t be competing in the LA Grand Prix due to my coach’s decision,” McLaughlin-Levrone said in a statement issued through her agent. “I trust his judgment and will be cheering on my fellow athletes. Excited to see my fans! Thanks for your support.”


After obliterating the 400 hurdles record, world champion Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is considering a move to a new event amid her growing fame.

Aug. 22, 2022

The decision to pull McLaughlin-Levrone was made Tuesday afternoon and was considered a surprise; McLaughlin-Levrone’s image dominates the meet’s official website and she was expected to compete only days earlier.

McLaughlin-Levrone’s gold medals and world-record-smashing times in the 400-meter hurdles have made her one of track and field’s biggest stars — performances achieved in recent years under the guidance of Kersee while training in Los Angeles.

Meet organizers would not confirm whether Athing Mu, who like McLaughlin-Levrone is one of the sport’s biggest draws and joined Kersee’s training group last fall, would compete. The Orange County Register reported Mu, the 800-meter champion at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 world championships held in Eugene, Ore., would not.

Co-organized by USA Track and Field, the Los Angeles Grand Prix is one of the governing body’s boldest attempts to redirect attention within the U.S. toward track and field, as part of a strategy to boost the sport’s domestic popularity ahead of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. To do that, organizers secured a premium location at UCLA, which hadn’t hosted a major, professional meet since 1990.

Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles as the U.S. outdoor track and field championships on Saturday.

June 25, 2022

“Track and field needs a serious boost in the arm when it comes to coaches, athletes, administrators behind the sport to get involved, get a product out there that the fans enjoy,” Kersee told The Times in March. “We get too locked up into world records. We need good competitions, good performances, good meets. And we got the athletes to do it.”

The Los Angeles Grand Prix begins with a distance carnival May 26 and is followed the next day with a meet that will be partially broadcast on NBC from Drake Stadium. The meet website has advertised fields that include world-record and gold-medalist pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, world-record and gold-medalist shot putter Ryan Crouser and former USC star and world champion at 400 meters Michael Norman, among several others who are expected to be in the mix at this summer’s world championships in Hungary.