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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the current world record holder in the 400-metre hurdles is out of the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships. According to her coach Bobby Kersee, she has a minor knee injury. Also out is Athing Mu, the defending Eugene World Athletics Championships gold medallist in the 800m event. The two have much in common.

Athing Mu

Mu, who moved to Los Angeles to work with Coach Kersee has raced little since partnering. She, however, is the reigning World and Olympic champion. According to Kersee, she is skipping Budapest to focus on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. In reality, no matter how she would perform in Budapest, it will have no bearing on her Paris performance. The real reason seems to be interest in the sport. Apparently, she prefers modelling to racing.

Perhaps modelling opportunities are greater in LA. Her former coach is Milton Mallard who works at Texas A&M in College Station, not a high-fashion city like Milan, London, New York or LA. Mu would have to drive for an hour to meet up with friends, whereas in LA, she has access to a diverse culture. But, at the end of the day it’s the modelling.

According to Let’s Run, Mu said, “Modelling is 100 per cent in my eye’s view. I honestly, I don’t know if I should say this — I make jokes all the time about me retiring within the next two years and just going to walk the runway. But I would love to go walk the runway, do editorial shoots. I would love to do anything in the fashion world.”

The 21-year-old has also openly talked about the pressure of competing and anxiety. She won nine of 10 races that she competed in during the 2022 season. She raced just three times in 2023, twice in the 1500m. Apparently, Mu may double in Paris.

Mu holds the current U20 800m world record with her Eugene 2022 performance of 1:55.04. The Trenton, NJ native has her eyes on the world record set by Czech runner Jarmila Kratochvílová at 1:53.28 in 1983 in Munich, Germany. Otherwise, she seems disinterested.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone

McLaughlin-Levrone is not only a world record holder in the 400mh (50.68), she is ranked eighth globally in the 400m sprint. The 24-year-old is the defending Olympic and World Championships gold medallist. She may also double in Paris.

Like Mu, McLaughlin-Levrone apparently also suffers from anxiety and does not enjoy the experience of racing. She has raced just twice this year and three times in 2022.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey native apparently will tackle the 400m flat in Paris and perhaps look for the world record which was set by Marita Koch in the time of 47.60 in 1985 in Canberra, AUS. Interestingly Kratochvílová is second all-time on the 400m list with her 47.99 performance.

Both athletes have much in common as they share Coach Kersee, originate from New Jersey. Both have Olympic and World gold medals and suffer anxiety. The two will both pass on Budapest.