Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone crosses the finish line far ahead of the field. c. Jason McDonald, JM Photography
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone crosses the finish line far ahead of the field. c. Jason McDonald, JM Photography

Eugene, Oregon has the moniker Track Town. After Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s world-leading time of 52.70 in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the Edwin Moses Legends Meet at Morehouse College Friday night, Atlanta might want to coin the term Track City.

Atlanta is known for its music industry, growing film industry (Hollywood South), sports teams, celebrities, and home to several Olympic track and field legends. The last part is one of the reasons Paul Doyle, PUMA, and Edwin Moses partnered to host the meet. The event earned the distinction of being the first major pro event of its kind to be held on an HBCU campus, on a track named after an HBCU alum.

Edwin Moses, Gwen Torrance, Gail Devers, Terrance Trammell, Angelo Taylor, Deedee Trotter, Christian Taylor, Antonio McKay, Aries Merrit, Dwight Phillips, and the mistress of ceremonies Kristi Castlin are all Olympic medal winners, World Champions (indoor, outdoor, or both), either grew up in the Atlanta area or call it home today. “I loved it here after the ’96 games, so I stayed,” said Devers of her move to Atlanta. Either way you slice it and to borrow a quote from Atlanta recording star Andre Benjamin, the South has something to say.

Track and Field didn’t start or end in Atlanta with the 1996 Summer Olympics that was held at what is now known as Center Parc Stadium. If sports agent Paul Doyle has anything to say about it, Atlanta could become the epicenter for the rise of the sport’s national appeal and the addition of a new moniker – Track City.

“Everyone at this time of year would have been over in Europe and we are here now,” explained Doyle. “There are so many more meets now in the U.S. than there were years ago. And we have this opportunity to be here, next week there’s New York. The people want it. We need to give it to them.”

Atlanta is already home to the Peachtree Road Race the world’s largest 10-kilometer race. Traditionally held on July 4, the Atlanta Track Club, organizers of the event, will be celebrating its 55th running in just over a month. According to its website, “the Atlanta Track Club is a member-based organization centered around running that delivers world-class events, training programs, and community outreach activities to the Metro Atlanta Area.” The organization hosts and provides support for track and field events from All-Comers to the Adidas Atlanta City Games held two weeks ago, and Friday’s meet.

Hurdler Keni Harrison is thriving in Atlanta meets. She took the tape two weeks ago in a time of 12.67 seconds and this week in 12.60 seconds. “My coach said we are working on the end and that’s what I was able to come out here and do,” said the native of North Carolina. Next weekend she will compete in the USATF NYC Grand Prix in Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island (Tickets).

Terrence Laird, Anna Hall, Celera Barnes, Tiffany Flynn, Tamara Clark, Tamari Davis, Favour Ofili, Talitha Diggs, and Ronnie Baker were holdovers who competed in both events. Laird described the track as particularly fast winning the men’s 200 meters in 20.30 seconds.

“The point is to get exposure for the sport. I feel like too many people have tried to keep our sport secret and we want to put it out there for everybody to see.” –Paul Doyle, Doyle Management

High School Competition

Olympians don’t just appear out of nowhere. Like Taylor and Trammell, talent is developed during the school year and in the summer via track clubs like ATL Zoom, Jack Rabbit, Major Impact, Blaze, and Mercury. Georgia prep stars and state champions Sidi Njie, Maurice Gleaton, Sanaa Frederick, and Madeline Cooper continued their winning ways.

Florida prep star, Christian Miller, the reigning USATF U20 champion in the 100 m and 200 m, ran a close second to Laird in the men’s 200 meters. Miller will continue his career down the road in Athens at the University of Georgia. Head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert is not playing.

After one year at the University of Kentucky, McLaughlin had already demonstrated there was nothing left to do at the college level. She has only reinforced that decision at the pro level winning two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, a silver and gold at the 2019 World Championship in Doha, and shattered four world records in one year.

The New Jersey native needed an Olympic standard qualifying time (54.85 seconds) before the games. She did not disappoint in the least. Running out of lane 6 she made up the stagger on Michelle Smith (ISV, Lane 7) and Alanah Yukich (AUS, Lane 8) after the first hurdle. McLaughlin-Levrone ran out front the entire race posting a world-leading time in the process. There’s no telling how fast the star would have gone with someone on her shoulder.

See the full results

CAU professor Trenton Bailey (L) with Veronica Campbell Brown (c), and
Veronica Campbell Brown (c) with CAU professor Trenton Bailey (l) and friend. Photo courtesy of Prof. Bailey


Not so fast. The event may have been over but the fans were not done. More than a few hung around to get autographs and photos of all the legends and competitors. Jamaican track star Veronica Campbell Brown took pictures with Clark Atlanta University professor and author Trenton Bailey in the stands. Bailey is a Morehouse alum and author of Do You Remember?: Celebrating Fifty Years of Earth, Wind & Fire, and a frequent contributor to the Real Deal Track & Field Facebook group.

If the excitement in the faces of the fans is any indication of the event’s success, go ahead and slap Track City on Atlanta.

Race Day Photos (126 images)

All photos by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports

2024 Puma American Track League - Edwin Moses Legends Meet