Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s greatness goes beyond the numbers- she’s a work of art.

 

If Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone had decided to quit after she ran a world record of 50.68s to win the women’s 400m Hurdles title in 2022, she would have been within her rights.

Even as she left the pitch at Hayward Field that incredible night, with the crowd rising to applaud an athlete who had quietly gone about her business, appreciation went far beyond the staggering numbers that flashed on the big screen. How good of a talent is this lady?

She has two Olympic titles, three world titles, and a world record. The numbers already do justice to her legacy. Athletics love data and numbers. It is how we gauge athletes against their peers and the ones who graced the track or field before them. Fans love the whole narrative of seeing an athlete break world records or push themselves beyond their limits.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Wanda Diamond League Athletics Meeting
Herculis EBS
July 21, 2023, Monaco, photo by Kevin Morris

In the last month, McLaughlin-Levrone has again reminded us why we fell in love with her. The New Jersey native has been a precocious talent since she could even learn to lace her spikes. Her difference in quality over her rivals is just staggering, and it’s almost as if we are watching two different races most of the time. Only Usain Bolt can boast of this quality against his rivals when they competed during his time.

If you look at the true essence of running, that inherently makes McLaughlin-Levrone one of the greats. Her ability to show up and wow the crowd, keeping them on the edge of their seats, is uncanny. Rare, you might say, but isn’t that part of what makes sports special? Her latest win at the New York Grand Prix in which she ran a staggering 48.75s to win the 400m was another exhibit of her superpowers.

It sounds far-fetched, but let’s call it what it is. A normal person should be tagged as an outlier during uncommon times. This was a 24-year-old, one of the sport’s modern greats, putting on a masterclass casually, intent on enjoying every second of the race she ran. We don’t get to see her often, but when we do, she goes on and does this.

No doubt, McLaughlin-Levrone has more years to run at the top. Watching her run with such rare composure, intelligence, and pinpoint accuracy is a blessing to most fans; it was hard not to think why she doesn’t run more often. Indeed, he could keep doing this for years. “People need to understand that our bodies can’t keep producing optimum performances all the time. I always try to give my best whenever I grace the track. If a good time comes, it does”. She said this after she opened her 400mH season at the Edwin Moses Track meet in Atlanta in May.

McLaughlin-Levrone always knows how to choose the right moment and rhythm with a precision that seems almost otherworldly. She was the perfect specimen for a runner and efficient on the track. Watching her race was like witnessing a master class in athletic grace, reminiscent of Roger Federer on the tennis court.

She glided effortlessly, her movements smooth and refined, as if the track was an extension of her body. Remarkably, she never seemed to break a sweat or get dirty. Sydney could go out, run her heart out, return home, and be ready to go again without a shower. It was as if she existed in a different realm, where physical exertion left no trace.

Such was her mastery of the sport, McLaughlin-Levrone appeared to be a runner from the future, far ahead of her time. Her performances were not just racing but symphonies of speed and style, leaving spectators in awe of her unparalleled talent and poise.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone wins 200m in PB 22.07, photo by USATF

Another race of McLaughlin-Levrone in which she showed superhuman status was when she ran 22.07s to win the women’s 200m at the Los Angeles Grand Prix. A perfectionist like her would have felt she could have done something different in the race to make her run faster. People were in awe, but this was nothing special by her standards.

But again, it was not about the execution or the number of strides she took to jump the hurdle. It was about the rhythm. As she looks towards Paris, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone seems poised to produce something extraordinary once more. Like a classical musician or perhaps the conductor, she is ready to perform her greatest hits when it matters most, leaving the crowd in awe of her special talent and eagerly anticipating her next race. Enjoy it while you can, for watching Sydney is witnessing the pinnacle of athletic artistry.

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