Sydney McLaughlin breaks world record at USATF Champs; Allyson Felix set for worlds

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Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record in the 400m hurdles for the third time in the last year, this time at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

The Olympic champion clocked 51.41 seconds in Eugene, Oregon, bettering her previous record of 51.46 from the Olympics. In all, McLaughlin has brought the record down from 52.16 in the last year.

“Anything is possible any time I step on the track,” said McLaughlin, who planned to celebrate by eating “some real food besides vegetables,” such as a cheeseburger or pancakes. “The goal is to improve upon myself and push the limits.”

McLaughlin’s legendary coach, Bob Kersee, said that McLaughlin is going to eventually turn to the flat 400m and chase that (37-year-old) world record, perhaps after capping this season with a world title in three weeks, NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon said. For now, McLaughlin’s sights are on those worlds, also in Eugene, where she will bid to complete her collection with a first world title.

“I’m just learning the race in general. As I’ve progressed over the years I’ve learned the 400m hurdles,” she said. “It’s a really cool feeling to actually have a race plan going in instead of just going out and running.”

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Also Saturday, the farewelling Allyson Felix likely clinched a spot on her 10th and final world championships team by placing sixth in the 400m. Talitha Diggs, whose Olympian mom competed at her last nationals the year before Felix competed in her first nationals, won to qualify for worlds in three weeks, also in Eugene.

“Happy that I don’t have any more open 400s ever,” said Felix, adding that she wants to run the mixed-gender 4x400m relay at worlds and would do the women’s 4x400m if asked. “I went to come here and give it my all, try to get in position for a relay and was able to get that done. Can’t complain.”

Michael Norman took the men’s 400m in 43.56, bettering his own fastest time in the world this year. Norman was the world’s fastest 400m runner in the last Olympic cycle but earned zero individual medals between worlds and the Olympics. Surprise runner-up Champion Allison improved his personal best from 44.29 to 43.70.

Keni Harrison, the Olympic 100m hurdles silver medalist and world record holder, won in 12.35, supplanting Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico as fastest in the world this year. Harrison edged Alaysha Johnson by one hundredth. Nia Ali didn’t start the final but has a bye onto the world team as reigning champ.

Rio Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager, who up until April went nearly four years between completing 3000m steeplechases due to injuries, took second and earned the time standard to make the world team.

“It’s been a real hard, long journey to build back my body and my confidence,” Jager, 33, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “I’m really proud of myself.”

Sinclaire Johnson won the women’s 1500m in 4:03.29 to make her first world team. She’s joined by Olympic finalists Cory McGee and Elle St. Pierre.

Former Oregon Duck Cooper Teare took the men’s 1500m in the absence of two other former Ducks — 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz (knee surgery) and Olympic Trials champion Cole Hocker (eliminated in first round). Teare missed the Olympic 5000m team by one spot.

All of the favorites advanced out of the 200m first round — world champion Noah Lyles (who has an automatic spot on the world team), 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton, Fred Kerley and Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas, Sha’Carri Richardson and Abby Steiner.

Likewise in the 110m hurdles (world champion Grant Holloway and Devon Allen).

The semifinals and finals in those events are Sunday.

Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen won the pole vault with a 5.70-meter clearance. Sam Kendricks scratched but can still compete at worlds via waiver as reigning world champion.

Kara Winger won her ninth U.S. javelin title and qualified for her sixth world team by hitting the qualifying standard on her last throw in her last national championships before retiring.

Maggie Malone, the world No. 1 this year, fouled on all three of her throws. She could still go to worlds, though, since she is one of two U.S. women with the qualifying standard.

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