Sydney McLaughlin broke the 400m hurdles world record for the fourth time in the last 13 months, clocking 50.68 seconds to complete her trophy case with her first world championships gold medal in the event.
She shattered her previous record from a month ago of 51.14.
“We thought we’d be able to go a little bit faster [than 50.68],” she told Lewis Johnson of NBC Sports. “But we’re super grateful with that time. Anything under 51 was a win for us.”
Since June 2021, she brought the world record down from 52.16 to 50.68. She is nine tenths of a second faster than the second-fastest woman in history, countrywoman Dalilah Muhammad, who took bronze behind Dutchwoman Femke Bol in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday.
McLaughlin, 22, became the second-youngest track and field athlete in history to own the three biggest accolades in an individual event — Olympic gold, world title and world record. Only Ethiopian distance runner Kenenisa Bekele held all three at a younger age.
McLaughlin supplanted Usain Bolt as the second-youngest person to complete the triple by a matter of days.
McLaughlin also matched Edwin Moses‘ feat of breaking the 400m hurdles world record four times over a career, though Moses needed seven years to do it.
McLaughlin has been a generational talent in the event at least since becoming, at 17 in 2016, the youngest U.S. Olympic track and field competitor since 1972.
She was eliminated in the semifinals in Rio, running 56.22 and saying afterward, “If I want to earn mine, I have to work a little bit harder.” She has since become a legend.
What’s next for McLaughlin? Likely a spot in Sunday’s women’s 4x400m relay final should the U.S. qualify and should she want to race one more time.
Then, perhaps, a switch to the flat 400m. McLaughlin’s legendary coach, Bob Kersee, said that she is going to eventually turn to that event and chase that (37-year-old) world record, perhaps after this season, NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon said last month.
“Me and Bobby are going to go back after the season, decide if this [400m hurdles] is still an event I even want to do, or if we’re going to find something else because I think we’ve accomplished so much in it,” McLaughlin said. “It could be [the flat 400m]. Anything is possible. Bobby will let me know. I follow what he says.”
Worlds continue Saturday with six finals, including the 4x100m relays.
Earlier Friday, Michael Norman became the first American man to win a global title in the 400m since LaShawn Merritt in 2013. Norman, the world’s fastest 400m runner in the last Olympic cycle yet fifth in Tokyo, earned his first individual global medal. It’s the first time since 2007 that the U.S. men sweep the 100m, 200m and 400m golds at an Olympics or worlds.
“A lot of relief right now,” Norman said. “It’s been an extremely long three years, disappointment and life lesson in Doha [2019 World Championships], COVID and then a slap in the face in Tokyo.”
Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas added her first world title to her two Olympic gold medals in the 400m, clocking 49.11 to distance Olympic silver medalist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic by .49. No Americans made the final.
Kara Winger extended a historic meet for U.S. women’s throwers, becoming the first American to win a world championships medal in the women’s javelin. Winger, a 36-year-old who plans to retire after this season, moved from fifth to second on her sixth and final throw. On Her Turf has more on the women’s javelin here.
“This was more than I ever could have imagined,” said Winger, who came back from ACL tear surgeries in 2012 and 2020 and 2015 left shoulder surgery. “I imagined it, but it was better than I imagined.”
American Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu led the qualifiers into Sunday’s 800m final. All of her top challengers also advanced out of the semifinals, including Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain and two Americans: Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers and two-time world bronze medalist Ajeé Wilson.
Both the U.S. men’s and women’s 4x100m relays advanced to Saturday’s finals. The men are favorites, even without injured 100m gold medalist Fred Kerley. The women are underdogs to Jamaica, which swept the 100m medals.
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