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In the world of hurdles before Sydney McLaughlin, it took years to shave fractions of seconds off the record, and winning a race didn’t always mean rewriting history.
This once-in-a-lifetime athlete is erasing that mindset as fast as it is destroying the records set over and over again.
For the fourth time in 13 months, 22-year-old McLaughlin set a world record. On Friday, she competed in the 400m hurdles. world Championships in 50.68 sec. He broke his old mark by 0.73 seconds, a ridiculous number for a race this distance, and in the world before McLaughlin, it had taken 33 years to trim.
She beat second-place finisher Femke Boll of the Netherlands by 1.59 seconds. McLaughlin’s main rival, Delilah Muhammad, finished third in 53.13 seconds, a time that could have easily won the world title only seven years ago.
And yet, as McLaughlin summarizes her takeaway from the evening—an evening she gave in a race, she turned into a Must-See Events of the Track – She was unwilling to declare that she ran a perfect race.
“I haven’t had a chance to watch it, so I’ll have to go back and talk to my coach,” McLaughlin said. “But I think there are always things to improve. I think we are pushing the boundaries of the sport, especially in our event.”
McLaughlin after receiving her gold medal And overheard “The Star-Spangled Banner,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe presented him a check for $100,000—the prize for breaking the world record. This marked the fourth straight major race in which he bettered the mark.
On a clear, perfect, 72-degree night at Hayward Stadium, McLaughlin overtook Bol and Muhammad by the 150-meter mark. By the time the American reached the final turn, it was clear that it would be strictly a race against the clock.
“It was crazy,” said Bol. “She was so far away at the end, I was almost doubting whether I had a really good run. Then, I looked at the timing and I thought, ‘Wow, that tells a lot.'”
When McLaughlin was finished, she leaned on the ground, looked at the scoreboard and said, “That’s great, that’s great.” He grabbed his knees and smiled. A minute later, the mascot, the legend the Bigfoot, bombarded him holding a sign that read: “World record is my favorite food.”
The 400-handicap record of 52.34, held by Russia’s Yulia Pechonkina, sat on the books for 16 years when Muhammad, not McLaughlin, reduced it to 52.20 at the 2019 US Championships in Iowa.
Subsequently, Muhammad’s coach, Boogie Johnson, stated that it had long been thought that the Russian’s record seemed “a bit bland” and ripe for takeover. Muhammad broke it again in the 2019 World Championships at 52.16.
That was a race McLaughlin lost by only 0.07, and one that set him up to make a change.
Since joining with coach Bobby Kersey, he has broken records at last year’s Olympic Trials (51.90), Olympics (51.46) and last month at the national level. (51.41). Now, that’s — a 1.4% improvement over the four-week-old record and the first time travel in the 50s.
“I certainly thought it was possible,” Muhammad said. “And after that race, I think 49 is possible.”
McLaughlin holds three of his four records on the same track at Hayward Stadium. She has turned what used to be the track’s best one-on-one showdown – hers versus Muhammad – into a one-woman show for a while.
Big question: how?
Some of the answers lie in a mix of better track surfaces, new technology in spikes that hindered the great Edwin Moses compared to “having a trampoline on your shoe”, and a new coaching regiment employed by Kersey, which helped nearly all of America’s greats. in the run-up to last year’s Olympics.
But mostly, pure genius.
McLaughlin said, “It’s just about everything you’ve done in a race in practice, where you’re letting your body do what it does.”
Another way to look at McLaughlin’s dominance: It took him only 1.57 seconds to cross the track, leaping 10 hurdles, which was needed to win the 400-flat to Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who missed the main event. Held about half an hour ago.
In the men’s race, American Michael Norman won the world title in 44.29 seconds, overcoming 2012 Olympic champion Kierani James in the final 80 metres.
Norman received massive applause from almost the entire stand, thought the emotional center of the evening had arrived a few minutes earlier. Javelin thrower Cara Winger, a 36-year-old coming off her second ACL surgery, threw 64.05 m (210 ft, 1 in) in her sixth and final attempt to finish second behind Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber .
It was the first medal in any major competition for the eight-time national champion, who rigged up the cable and pulley system in her backyard to keep up with her training during the pandemic.
And then came McLaughlin. She and Muhammad went through eight days to increase the total American medals to 26. The Americans need five more to surpass their championship record. The weekend is heavy with relays, which will include the surprise return of Alison Felix in the 4×400.
It will come as no surprise to see McLaughlin (and Muhammad) on America’s 4×400 relay team, just as they were in Tokyo last summer where they helped America win gold.
Speaking about that 400 flat, McLaughlin teased the idea that he might have a future there too.
“My coach feels there is a lot to be done,” she said. “At some point, we’ll probably do 4, or maybe 100 hurdles. When I’m doing it, really enjoy 400 hurdles, and then, if you want to expand, from there,” he says. Go. So, the sky is definitely the limit.”