Olympic Trials 100 Preview: Sha’Carri, Noah Lyles, & Could a High Schooler Make the Men’s Team?

It's been 20 years since an American won the Olympic 100m, but the US has a good chance of a gold-medal sweep in Paris

The 100 meters is the purest, simplest sporting event there is. There aren’t any complicated rules. There’s no real strategy. A five-year-old can understand it because five-year-olds play it all the time during recess. Bet you I can beat you to that tree! The men and women who line up for the Olympic 100-meter finals in Paris in August will have starting blocks and fancy spikes, but the game is essentially the same.

That is why the 100 is the most popular event in track & field, and that is why you are going to have to pause whatever you are doing for 10 seconds at 10:50 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:49 p.m. ET on Sunday to watch the men’s and women’s 100-meter finals at the 2024 US Olympic Trials.

All US Olympic Trials are important, but 2024 is especially big. Jamaica has had a stranglehold on the event during the past four Olympics but its stars are fading and the next generation (particularly on the women’s side) may not arrive in time for Paris. Meanwhile the US has the reigning world champions in Sha’Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles.

It has been 20 years since an American man won the Olympic 100-meter title — Justin Gatlin in Athens — and even longer on the women’s side (Gail Devers in 1996, since Marion Jones‘ 2000 title was stripped for doping). But America’s long national nightmare may be over in 2024. The US has a legitimate chance to sweep the Olympic 100m titles for the first time since 1988.

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But before anyone can start fantasizing about Paris, they must endure the cauldron of competition that is the Olympic Trials (and pass the post-race drug test). You can be the fastest runner in the world but if you’re not in the top three this weekend in Eugene, you’re not going to the Olympics.

Here is what you need to know about the men’s and women’s 100 at the Olympic Trials.

Before you read the preview, take a minute and enter our free BetterRunningShoes.com prediction contest and you could win $200,024. Get a friend and play in a group. Also have you joined our Supporters Club yet? We’ll be broadcasting a live post-meet show right after the action ends most nights at 11 p.m. ET. To get it on-demand as a podcast, sign up for our Supporters Club.

And do you have a friend who is a casual fan of track and field? Email them our overall meet preview: LRC The Casual Fan’s Guide To The 2024 US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

Men’s 100: Noah Lyles, Christian Coleman, and a lot of chaos

Prelims: Saturday, June 22, 9:22 p.m. ET
Semis: Sunday, June 23, 8:48 p.m. ET
Final: Sunday, June 23, 10:49 p.m. ET

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Reigning world champion Noah Lyles is the US leader at 9.85 and looks to be the safest bet on the team. Not content to rest on his world title from Budapest last year, Lyles packed on 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason and became one of the world’s best 60-meter men this year, winning the US title and taking silver at World Indoors. Lyles’ finish has always been the strongest part of his race, so the fact that he has figured out his start is very dangerous for the rest of the world. If he is in front at the 60-meter mark of the 100, he is virtually unbeatable.

Christian Coleman is the other American who has been consistently good in 2024 as he beat Lyles to win the 60 at World Indoors and has finished 1st, 2nd, and 1st in his three Diamond League appearances. His 9.95 season best isn’t crazy fast, but he is a championship performer, making every US team he has tried out for since 2017.

Of course there is one big caveat there. Coleman was suspended for the 2021 Olympic Trials — where he would have been the favorite — due to missing three drug tests. Coleman made the Olympics in 2016 as part of the relay pool, but making it individually in the 100 would be a significant personal triumph after his time away from the sport.

Lyles and Coleman will likely take two of the three Olympic spots, but the third spot is completely up in the air as most of the guys who have made recent US teams have major question marks around them. Reigning Trials champ Trayvon Bromell is injured and not running. Cravont Charleston, who surprisingly won USAs last year without a shoe sponsor, has not raced at all in 2024 but is entered in the Trials.

What shoes will Kerley be wearing at the Trials? (Kevin Morris photo)

The man making the most headlines entering the Trials is Fred Kerley — though not for good reasons. Kerley was the Olympic silver medalist in 2021 and world champ in 2022, after which he signed a massive shoe contract with Asics, a company that does not sponsor many elite sprinters. Kerley started off well in 2023 but wound up bombing out of Worlds, after which he dumped his coach Alleyne Francique and moved to Los Angeles to train under Quincy Watts.

But things have gone no better in 2024 as Kerley has failed to break 10.10 in his last three races. And in his last meet before the Trials in New York, Kerley showed up wearing Puma spikes, struggled with faulty starting blocks, and left the track without racing. Within an hour of the race, Asics announced it had “mutually parted ways” with Kerley.

Kerley is leaving a ton of guaranteed money on the table by leaving Asics, but presumably he would not be showing up to race in a competitor’s product if he was happy with Asics’ spikes. The fact is, Kerley is 29 years old and this may be his last shot to make the Olympic team. In that situation, you cannot afford to have doubts about your equipment. How Kerley runs — and what shoes are on his feet — will be a major storyline of the Trials.

There are also a host of guys who have never made a US 100-meter team who will have a shot to get on the plane to Paris, including an 18-year-old high schooler. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • Kenny Bednarek, Nike, 25 years old (10.01 sb): Bednarek is one of the world’s best 200 runners (silver at 2021 Olympics and 2022 Worlds) but has never made a US team in the 100, though he was 4th at the last Trials. He has been on fire in 2024, with the world lead in the 200 (19.67) and was just thousandths behind Lyles when they raced each other in the 100 in April. Bednarek is the favorite for the third spot on the team and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him beat Lyles and Coleman and win the whole thing.
  • Kendal Williams, adidas, 28 years old (9.93 sb): Williams, who trains with Lyles in Florida, won the world junior title at the old Hayward Field back in 2014 and was 7th at USAs last year but it would be a surprise if he made this team. His 9.93 sb is tied for #2 in the US this year, but it came with a perfect 2.0 tailwind on the fast Clermont track.
  • Christian Miller, St. Johns Striders, 18 years old (9.93 sb): Like Williams, Miller’s 9.93 sb came with a friendly wind on the quick Clermont track, but there is one big difference between the two men: Miller is 18 years old. Miller is the youngest American ever to break 10 seconds, and his time will stand as the US high school record unless Issam Asinga can overturn his drug suspension at CAS. Running three rounds against some of the best in the world is a huge test, but Miller is very fit — he just ran 9.95 to break the Franklin Field record last week at New Balance Nationals. For a high schooler to make the most competitive Olympic team in the biggest event in the sport would be a huge deal.
  • Brandon Hicklin, adidas, 25 years old (9.94 sb): Primarily a long jumper until this year, Hicklin never made an NCAA sprint final during his time at North Carolina A&T and LSU but has taken his pb from 10.12 to 9.94, a time he has run twice this year, most recently on June 3 in Prague. If you’re looking for the 2024 version of Cravont Charleston, this is your man.

Who wins the US Olympic Trials men's 100m?

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Does high schooler Christian Miller make the Olympic 100m team?

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Women’s 100: The Sha’Carri Richardson show

Prelims: Friday, June 21, 8:53 p.m. ET
Semis: Saturday, June 22, 9:00 p.m. ET
Final: Saturday, June 22, 10:50 p.m. ET

It has been quite the rollercoaster ride if you are a Sha’Carri Richardson fan. Just look at how her last five years have played out since graduating high school:

2019: Runs 10.75 to win the NCAA title as a true freshman at LSU, signs with Nike, finishes last in USA final at the end of a long season.
2020: COVID season.
2021: Explodes as a star by winning the Olympic Trials (after running a wind-aided 10.64 in the semis) only to be DQ’d days later after testing positive for cannabis. Misses the Olympics.
2022: Fails to make it out of the first round of the 100s at USAs. Misses a home World Championships in Eugene.
2023: Wins the US title and makes her first US team. Needs a time qualifier to make the World Championship final but wins the whole thing with a 10.65 championship record from lane 9.

Richardson was impressive at the Pre Classic (Kevin Morris photo)

So far, last year’s world final in Budapest is the high point of the rollercoaster. But Richardson may still be climbing. Since becoming world champion, Sha’Carri has cashed in, signing at least seven endorsement deals with major brands such as Sprite, Olay, and Beats by Dre. Her face is everywhere in 2024. She has also scaled back her competition schedule. Richardson has only run one 100m this year, but it was an impressive one — a dominant 10.83 at the Pre Classic in cool conditions.

Richardson is the overwhelming favorite at the Trials and things are looking good for Paris considering how her Jamaican rivals have been running (or not running). Reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah is injured and may not even make the Jamaican team. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champ and GOAT of the women’s 100, is 37 years old and has only raced once in 2024. Last year’s silver medalist Shericka Jackson has been racing but not very fast. Everything is falling into place for Richardson.

After Sha’Carri, the American in the best form is McKenzie Long. The 23-year-old was the star of the NCAA championships, sweeping the 100, 200, and 4×100 for Ole Miss, including a slightly wind-aided (+2.2) run of 10.82 in the NCAA final. It has been meteoric rise for Long, who has never made a US final, let alone a team. When she transferred from NC State to Ole Miss two years ago, her pb was 11.48 and she had never made an NCAA final. In three days, she could be an Olympian.

Here are the other contenders for the team:

  • Aleia Hobbs, adidas, 28 years old (10.88 sb): Hobbs has won the last two US 60m titles indoors and was 6th at Worlds in the 100 in 2022 but didn’t even make the US 100 final last year. She has run 10.88 twice in 2024.
  • Jacious Sears, University of Tennessee, 22 years old (10.77 sb): Sears is the world leader in 2024 after stunningly dropping her pb from 10.96 to 10.77 at the Tom Jones Invite in April. But she pulled up injured in the SEC final on May 11 and has not raced since so there are definite questions about her health.
  • Tamari Davis, adidas, 21 years old (10.94 sb): Davis was a youth phenom, running 10.83 as a 19-year-old in 2022 and last year finished 3rd at USAs and 9th at Worlds at age 20. She hasn’t run anything crazy in 2024 but hasn’t been running poorly, either.
  • Melissa Jefferson, Nike, 23 years old (10.94 sb): Jefferson was the surprise US champ in 2022 but failed to break 11 seconds in her first year as a pro in 2023. She’s been better in 2024 and was the top American at Pre behind Richardson (but only 5th overall).

Who wins the women's 100 at the US Olympic Trials?

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Take a minute and enter our free BettRunningShoes.com prediction contest and you could win $200,024. Get a friend and play in a group. Also have you joined our Supporters Club yet? We’ll be broadcasting a live post-meet show right after the action ends most nights at 11 p.m. ET. To get it on-demand as a podcast, sign up for our Supporters Club.

And do you have a friend who is a casual fan of track and field? Email them our overall meet preview: LRC The Casual Fan’s Guide To The 2024 US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

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