Gyulai — Lynna Irby Back To Being A Long-Sprint Threat

After a down year Lynna Irby is returning to the form that made her a sensation at the ’18 NCAA. (MIKE SCOTT)

SZÉKESFEHÉRVÁR, HUNGARY, August 19—Her time at the Gyulai Memorial might not have screamed “headline material!” but the names Lynna Irby beat at this Continental Tour stop indicate the 21-year-old Indiana native is poised to be every bit as dangerous as she looked as a Georgia frosh in ’18.

Winning the Székesfehérvár 200 in 22.55—with a modest 0.7 wind—Irby crushed not only 2-time world champ Dafne Schippers (22.94) and Doha bronze medalist Mujinga Kambundji (23.25) but also ’17 silver medalist Marie-Josée Ta Lou (23.33). “I felt that could have been a PR race if it had been a faster track,” Irby says. “I felt strong and extremely quick.”

The win came on the heels of her first-ever Diamond League victory, in Monaco, where she ran down World Champs 4th-placer Wadeline Jonathas to win the 400 in a year-leading 50.50. “I wasn’t surprised by how strong I finished because it was part of the plan for the race,” she says. “That was the main thing [coach Lance Brauman] said before I went into the call room. He’s like, ‘I don’t care how bad it hurts. You’re going to drive through that line.’

“And I’m like, ‘Yes coach!’”

An age-group star who had earlier won 400 silvers at both the World Youth (’15) and World Junior (’16) levels, Irby dazzled the world in her first and only college season, helping the Bulldogs to the team title Indoors by placing 2nd in both the 200 and 400. Outdoors, on a wet track in Eugene, she exploded to a 49.80 win and came back 35 minutes later with a 22.92 into a headwind for 3rd in the 200.

After earning World Rankings spots in both the 200 (No. 10) and 400 (No. 8) she opted to sign with adidas early the next spring.

“Obviously last year was a little bit disappointing,” she says of the ’19 campaign, in which she hit bests of only 22.95 & 51.14 and placed just 6th in the USATF 200. “I wasn’t 100% healthy,” she explains. “I had gone through a bit of an injury, a hamstring, on top of the fact that I had gained a bunch of weight.”

Things turned around in the off-season: “Once I dropped the weight and became healthy, everything in practice has been going well. So this year is a whole different game for me.”

She adds, “Do I have something to prove? I guess so, but more so prove to myself. I wanted to get back to what I knew and how fast I was. I felt like I wanted to prove to myself that as long as I‘m healthy and working hard, things will always play out the way they’re supposed to.”

And while she’s back on track, she admits that the Olympic postponement works to her advantage. “I got more time to just hone in on my craft and work on a lot of my weaknesses without the extra pressure of, ‘Oh shoot, we have a team to make! I have to hurry up and do X, Y & Z!’

“But this, I get to put one foot in front of the other without moving too fast. I just got more time to train and get my body right. And get stronger.”
In her brief ’20 campaign so far, the results have showed. In late July she slashed her 100 PR from 11.40 to 11.27. “I was really happy and excited because that was an honestly less-than-perfectly executed race,” she says. “It was so like, ‘Fine-tune this, fine-tune this and how much more could my time drop?’”

Now, with two European wins and at least one more race coming stateside, Irby feels very good about where she is with the Olympics a year away.

“I’m happy with the way Europe went for me,” she says. “I just wanted to take full advantage of putting my name out there and making sure I ran a fast time. On top of that, I know how to race. Like when coach tells me certain terminologies, I know what he’s talking about. I’m excited for next year and I want it to carry over.”

But the obvious question for ’21 is still out there. Is Irby a 200 threat or a 400 threat? She laughs out loud and refuses to commit, saying, “I’m a sprinter, baby! I would not choose. If I could run the 100 all the time, I would definitely be doing that. We work on it all.”

In other races, Irby training partner Noah Lyles won a sprint double in 10.05/20.13. “I was just out here to have fun,” he said, explaining that he decided to double back after a training session the night before had left him energetic and feeling good. After his Monaco win, said Lyles, “This was just icing on the cake. I don’t get to run two races very often so it was a lot of fun. Physically I feel healthy, which is the most important. Now it’s time to go home and get ready for next year.”

In the highs, Grant Holloway produced a start for the ages, with a huge lead over the first hurdle that he held onto for 7 more before running into step problems. Orlando Ortega caught him at the line, 13.21–13.22, with Freddie Crittenden hitting 13.30 in lane 8.

The triple jump featured a great 3-way battle, Burundi’s Hugues Fabrice Zango (57-2¼/17.43 for a yearly outdoor world leader) getting the best of American Christian Taylor (56-10¾/17.34) and Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo (56-8½/17.28).


Continental Tour Gold; Székesfehérvár, Hungary, August 19—

100(0.3): 1. Noah Lyles (US) 10.05; 2. Adam Gemili (GB) 10.28; 3. Elijah Hall (US) 10.31;… dq—Mike Rodgers (US).

200(1.3): 1. Lyles 20.13; 2. Eseosa Desalu (Ita) 20.35; 3. Gemili 20.56; 4. Hall 20.69.

400: 1. Kahmari Montgomery (US) 45.50; 2. Josephus Lyles (US) 46.08; 3. Luka Janežic (Slo) 46.16.

600: 1. Donavan Brazier (US) 1:15.07 out PR (out WL, AL);

2. Wesley Vazquez (PR) 1:15.31; 3. Balázs Vindics (Hun) 1:16.84.

110H(0.3): 1. Orlando Ortega (Spa) 13.21; 2. Grant Holloway (US) 13.22; 3. Freddie Crittenden (US) 13.30; 4. Wilhem Belocian (Fra) 13.34; 5. Aaron Mallett (US) 13.45; 6. Andrew Pozzi (GB) 13.60.

400H: 1. David Kendziera (US) 50.00 (AL);

2. Rasmus Mägi (Est) 50.18; 3. Máté Koroknai (Hun) 50.59; 4. Dai Greene (GB) 51.06.

TJ: 1. Hugues Fabrice Zango (Bur) 57-2¼ (17.43) (out WL) (56-5¾, 57-1 [out WL], f, 57-2¼, f, 56-2) (17.21, 17.40, f, 17.43, f, 17.12); 2. Christian Taylor (US) 56-10¾ (17.34) (out AL) (55-10¼, f, f, 56-10¾, 56-7¼, 56-10¾ =out WL) (17.02, f, f, 17.34, 17.25, 17.34);

3. Pedro Pablo Pichardo (Por) 56-8½ (17.28) (55-10¼, 55-5, 55-2¾, 56-8½, 56-6, 56-6½) (17.02, 16.89, 16.83, 17.28, 17.22, 17.23); 4. Alexis Copello (Aze) 55-6¼ (16.92); 5. Pablo Torrijos (Spa) 54-9¼ (16.69).

DT: 1. Daniel Ståhl (Swe) 220-10 (67.31); 2. Andrius Gudžius (Lit) 220-1 (67.08); 3. Simon Pettersson (Swe) 215-7 (65.70); 4. Piotr Małachowski (Pol) 212-7 (64.80);

5. Robert Urbanek (Pol) 209-11 (63.98); 6. János Huszák (Hun) 205-11 (62.77); 7. Lawrence Okoye (GB) 205-2 (62.53); 8. Alin Alexandru Firfirica (Rom) 202-11 (61.84).

HT: 1. Wojciech Nowicki (Pol) 256-1 (78.07); 2. Bence Halász (Hun) 255-11 (78.00);

3. Myhaylo Kokhan (Ukr) 255-2 (77.78) PR (4, 5 WJ);

4. Paweł Fajdek (Pol) 249-7 (76.08); 5. Eivind Henriksen (Nor) 241-2 (73.50); 6. Javier Cienfuegos (Spa) 239-5 (72.98); 7. Dániel Rába (Hun) 234-3 (71.40); 8. Krisztián Pars (Hun) 231-7 (70.59).


200(0.7): 1. Lynna Irby (US) 22.55; 2. Dafne Schippers (Neth) 22.94; 3. Mujinga Kambundji (Swi) 23.25; 4. Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CI) 23.33; 5. Maja Mihalinec (Slo) 23.51; 6. Ivet Lalova-Collio (Bul) 23.66.

400: 1. Wadeline Jonathas (US) 52.09; 2. Lieke Klaver (Neth) 52.11; 3. Laviai Nielsen (GB) 52.24; 4. Raevyn Rogers (US) 52.50; 5. Jessie Knight (GB) 52.52 PR.

100H(-0.2): 1. Nadine Visser (Neth) 12.68 (=WL);

2. Luca Kozák (Hun) 12.71 NR; 3. Elvira Herman (Blr) 12.96; 4. Cyréna Samba-Mayela (Fra) 13.07; 5. Annimari Korte (Fin) 13.09;

6. Sharika Nelvis (US) 13.09 (AL).

400H: 1. Femke Bol (Neth) 54.67; 2. Anna Ryzhykova (Ukr) 55.86; 3. Sage Watson (Can) 56.29; 4. Léa Sprunger (Swi) 56.65.

LJ: 1. Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova (Blr) 22-2½w (6.77); 2. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukr) 22-2¼ (6.76); 3. Diana Lesti (Hun) 21-10w (6.65); 4. Anasztázia Nguyen (Hun) 21-4¼ (6.51); 5. Abigail Irozuru (GB) 21-2½ (6.46); 6. Yanis David (Fra) 21-2 (6.45).

HT: 1. Alexandra Tavernier (Fra) 239-9 (73.09); 2. Malwina Kopron (Pol) 238-5 (72.68); 3. Hanna Malyshchyk (Blr) 231-7 (70.59); 4. Iryna Klymets (Ukr) 225-6 (68.75); 5. Martina Hrasnova (Svk) 219-9 (66.99);… 3f—Joanna Fiodorow (Pol).