2022 Puerto Rico Athletics Classic Preview: Elaine Thompson-Herah, Athing Mu, Trayvon Bromell Headline Star-Studded Meet
By Jonathan Gault
May 11, 2022
If I told you there was a track meet on Thursday that will be shown nationwide on ESPN2 that features nine individual Olympic champions, including Elaine Thompson-Herah, Athing Mu, and Steven Gardiner, is that something you might be interested in?
Thursday’s Puerto Rico Athletics Classic is not a Diamond League event — the 2022 DL season begins on Friday in Doha — but some of the matchups are Diamond League quality. Here are the events we’ll be following most closely in the latest stop on the American Track League circuit.
*Schedule, entries, & results can be found on Roster Athletics app *TV window is 6-8 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN2 and Watch ESPN
Men’s 100 (prelims 6:18 p.m. ET, final 7:45 p.m. ET): Trayvon Bromell leads the way
2021 US champion Trayvon Bromell ran his first 100 of 2022 last weekend in Jacksonville and looked exceptional, clocking 9.75 to demolish training partner (and Olympic bronze medalist) Andre De Grasse, who ran 10.07 for second. Bromell’s time would have gone down as a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year, but the wind was just a hair over the legal limit (+2.1). He’ll go again in his specialty distance in Puerto Rico against Marvin Bracy (9.85 pb, World Indoor 60m bronze medalist), British Olympic finalist Zharnel Hughes, and 2011 world champ Yohan Blake.
Women’s 100 (prelims 6:31 p.m. ET, final 7:37 p.m. ET): How does Cambrea Sturgis measure up to Olympic champ Elaine Thompson-Herah?
There’s the potential for a nice matchup in the final here should Elaine Thompson-Herah elect to contest both rounds (in her last race in the US at the USATF Golden Games, she ducked out after running 10.89 in the prelims). ETH is almost always the favorite, but she’ll be a good measuring stick for American Cambrea Sturgis, who was the 2022 world leader until Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce‘s 10.67 in Nairobi on Saturday.
Sturgis broke out by sweeping the 100/200 at NCAAs last year in super fast times (10.74/22.12, though the 100 had a +2.2 wind) but, after a long collegiate season, couldn’t keep it going at the Olympic Trials, where she failed to make the final in either event. Now a pro, Sturgis ripped a 10.87 100m pb in Greensboro on April 23 and will get against a field featuring Thompson-Herah and a total of six women who have broken 11 seconds this season.
Women’s 400 (6:45 p.m. ET): All eyes on Athing Mu
Olympic 800 champ Athing Mu has already run a 400 this year, but it was a fairly ho-hum effort, a 51.75 victory at Texas A&M on April 9 — more than two seconds slower than her 49.57 pb. Mu showed two weeks ago at Penn, however, that she’s in good shape right now, running 1:22.74 for 600 (#4 all-time). Expect her to go a lot faster than 51.75 in this one.
Men’s triple jump (6:55 p.m. ET): The return of Christian Taylor
Aside from an injury-plagued 2013 season, Christian Taylor has lorded over the triple jump for the past decade, winning world titles in 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2019 and Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016. But Taylor missed the opportunity to go for an Olympic three-peat in Tokyo after rupturing his Achilles tendon at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet on May 19, 2021. On Thursday, 358 days after his last competition, Taylor will return to the runway. Will the 31-year-old Taylor be able to successfully defend his world title in Eugene in July? We’ll start to get an idea in Puerto Rico, where Taylor will face World Indoor bronze medalist and 2021 US runner-up Donald Scott.
Men’s shot put (7:00 p.m. ET): Ryan Crouser attempts to start a new streak
Heading into the 2022 outdoor season, world record holder Ryan Crouser had thrown at least 22 meters in an absurd 14 straight competitions. That streak finally came to an end at the Drake Relays on April 30, where he threw “only” 21.63m for the win. He’ll get the chance to start a new 22-meter streak on Thursday night.
Men’s 110 hurdles (7:04 p.m. ET): Devon Allen vs Olympic champ Hansle Parchment
If 2022 is to be Devon Allen‘s final season as a track & field athlete before heading to the NFL, he’s staging one heck of a farewell tour. He’s 3-f0r-3 to begin the outdoor season and owns the #2 and #3 times in the world this year at 13.11 and 13.12. He’ll have to be at his best in Puerto Rico, however, as he’ll be going up against Olympic champ Hansle Parchment of Jamaica, who is also undefeated in 2022.
Men’s 800 (7:11 p.m. ET): Clayton Murphy, Michael Saruni lead the way
Clayton Murphy hasn’t been very impressive in 2022, but by this point I know better than to count out the three-time US 800m champion. He’ll face some solid competition in this 800 including former NCAA indoor champ Michael Saruni, US indoor 1000m record holder Shane Streich, and Streich’s Atlanta Track Club teammate Abe Alvarado.
Men’s 300 (7:27 p.m. ET): Can Steven Gardiner get the world best?
When someone the caliber of Olympic and world champion Steven Gardiner steps down to an odd event like the 300 meters, it usually means they’ve got some sort of record in mind, and the pre-meet press release did indeed state Gardiner will be targeting the world best, currently 30.81 by Wayde van Niekerk. That’s pretty damn fast — van Niekerk was less than a year removed from his 43.03 400 WR when he ran it in 2017 — but Gardiner is pretty fit right now too. He won last year’s Olympics in 43.85 and opened up his 2022 campaign with a 44.22 three weeks ago at LSU — not a bad time for April 23.
Women’s 100 hurdles (7:54 p.m. ET): Jasmine Camacho-Quinn tries to protect home turf
This was set to be the race of the meet with Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who competes for Puerto Rico, taking on rising star Tonea Marshall, the second-fastest in the world this year at 12.46 (Camacho-Quinn is the world leader at 12.39). But Marshall is no longer listed among the entries, leaving Camacho-Quinn as the heavy favorite against American Tia Jones (12.59 sb) and 2015 world champ Danielle Williams of Jamaica.
For the Puerto Rico crowd, however, this still will be the race of the night.