USA’s Sydney McLaughlin has set a new world record with a phenomenal run in the women’s 400m hurdles final. The new Olympic champion broke her own world-best mark of 51.90, storming past compatriot Dalilah Muhammad down the home straight to win the Olympic gold medal in 51.46 seconds.
Muhammad – the Rio 2016 Olympic champion – took silver, going under 52 seconds in a time that also broke the former world record (51.58). Femke Bol of the Netherlands finished third in a new European record of 52.03.
McLaughlin entered the final as favourite, having broken Muhammad’s world record at the US track and field trials in June. However, in Muhammad she has a worthy – and brilliant – adversary. She was the reigning Olympic gold medallist and an athlete she has swapped first position with in multiple races over the past few years.
When the starting pistol sounded, Dalilah exploded out of the blocks, storming into the lead over the first 200m.
And then came McLaughlin.
🇺🇸 WORLD RECORD 🇺🇸
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 4, 2021
The 21-year-old, who began the race in lane 4 with Netherlands’ dynamo Femke Bol just outside her in 5, found an extra gear to draw level with Muhammad as the race came down to the final 100 metres.
Unsurprisingly, given how fast she started, Muhammad began to tire, and McLaughlin surged forward over the last 50 to win a spectacular gold medal in a world record time.
McLaughlin was understandably elated with her gold-medal-winning run, saying after the race: “I’m absolutely delighted. What a great race. I’m just grateful to be out here celebrating that extraordinary race and representing my country.
“I saw (silver medallist) Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought ‘Run your race’.
“The race doesn’t really start till hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had.
“It’s just about trusting your training, trusting your coach, and that will get you all the way round the track.”
Muhammad, for her part, was ecstatic with her own performance, even as she swaps gold for silver in Tokyo.
“Every question is going to be, ‘am I happy or am I unhappy with silver?’,” she said.
“But that’s not how I feel at all. I’ve had an amazing year and to finish with 51.5(8), shattering my personal best, is absolutely amazing.
“Just like the men’s race, all three of our times would have won any Olympics, any other year. I’m so proud to be part of that history and even more proud of my teammate Sydney. I’m just happy it’s a one-two final for USA, and today I’m happy with second.”