Two years on from Dalilah Muhammad’s world 400m hurdles record at the US Championships, Sydney McLaughlin emulated the feat with a sensational time of 51.90* on the final day of the US Olympic Trials in Eugene on Sunday (27).
Racing in the penultimate women’s track final of the championships, world silver medallist McLaughlin beat Muhammad and it took a world record to do so as she blazed around the track in hot conditions – with the programme having been delayed due to the extreme heat – to improve her own previous best by 0.33.
In Des Moines in 2019, Muhammad clocked 52.20 to break the world record for the first time and later improved that mark to 52.16 to win the world title in Doha – on both occasions being challenged by McLaughlin.
This time it was McLaughlin’s turn.
Blasting out of the blocks, Muhammad, McLaughlin and Shamier Little were fairly evenly matched until the final bend, when McLaughlin started to inch ahead.
She negotiated the final barrier well and powered her way to the finish line in 51.90, becoming the first woman in history to break 52 seconds for the event.
Muhammad, who has battled injuries and Covid-19 earlier this year, finished second in 52.42. NCAA champion Anna Cockrell came through to take third place in 53.70 as Little lost momentum on the final bend, eventually finishing fourth in 53.85.
“A lot of the things you can’t see coming, but this is the result of trusting the process,” said McLaughlin. “Working with my new coach (Bobby Kersee) and my new support system is truly just faith and trusting the process. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure