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Sydney McLaughlin clears 400 hurdles world record at world championships

Sydney McLaughlin broke her world record by a whopping 0.73 seconds on Friday, clearing the 400-metre hurdles in 50.68 seconds for her first career gold at the world championships.

The 22-year-old annihilated the field by setting the first world record of these championships. More impressively, it was the fourth consecutive major race in which she improved the mark.

“It’s unreal,” McLaughlin said in the post-race interview at the track.

Femke Bol of the Netherlands was second in 52.27 – a difference of 1.59 seconds – and defending world champion Dalilah Muhammad was third in 53.13 – a time that would have won the race just seven years ago.

On a clear, perfect 72-degree night at Hayward Stadium, the New Jersey native left Bol and Muhammad at the 150-yard mark. When the American reached the final curve, it was clear that it would be strictly a race against time.

When she was done, she leaned down on the floor, looked at the dashboard and said, “That’s great, that’s great.” She hugged her knees and smiled. A minute later, the mascot, Legend the Bigfoot, photo bombed her as she held a sign that read, “World records are my favorite food.”

Sydney McLaughlin, who won the women’s 400-metre hurdles final, also received a hefty $100,000 bonus.

His too. After the medal ceremony, World Athletics President Seb Coe presented McLaughlin with a check for $100,000 – the bonus for anyone who sets a world mark at this competition.

“Honestly, I just wanted to run and go,” she said. “That last 100 really hurt.”

The 400 hurdles record had been set for 16 years when Muhammad lowered it to 52.20 at the US Championships in Iowa in 2019.

Since then, she or Muhammad have beaten him in every major encounter: Muhammad at the 2019 Worlds (52.16), then McLaughlin at last year’s Olympic Trials (51.90), the Olympics (51.46), at nationals this year (51.41) and, now, this.

McLaughlin set three of those four records at that same track at Hayward Stadium. She’s turned what was once the best one-on-one showdown in sports — her versus Muhammad — into a solo show yet.

Sydney McLaughlin clears 400 hurdles world record at world championships
Sydney McLaughlin stands alongside silver medalist Femke Bol (left) and bronze medalist Dalilah Muhammad during the medal ceremony on July 22, 2022.
Getty Images

The big question: how?

Some answers lie in the mix of improved track surfaces, new technologies in spikes that hedge the great Edwin Moses over “having trampolines on your shoes” and a new training regimen employed by Bobby Kersee on approach of the Olympics last year.

But above all, pure talent.

Another way to look at McLauglin’s dominance: Crossing the track while jumping 10 hurdles took him just 1.57 seconds longer than Shaunae Miller-Uibo needed to win the 400 flats, held around half an hour before the main event.

Like McLaughlin, Miller-Uibo has dominated his run for the past year and more. Like McLaughlin, this was Miller-Uibo’s first world championship. She beat Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic by 0.49 seconds for a repeat of the same double as in Tokyo last year.

On the men’s side, American Michael Norman won the world title in 44.29 seconds, beating 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James over the final 80 metres.

Norman received massive applause from the near-full stands, which saw the United States take medals Nos. 23-26 on Day Eight.

Sydney McLaughlin clears 400 hurdles world record at world championships
The 22-year-old gold medalist has a bright future ahead of her as she continues to break records, win world titles and collect Olympic gold medals.
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The Americans are heading into the busy relay weekend, which will include the surprise return of Allyson Felix in the 4×400, who needs five more to break her championship record, set five years ago at London. They won 26 medals last year in Tokyo.

While McLaughlin’s win was huge, the emotional center of the night came minutes early. Javelin thrower Kara Winger threw 64.05 meters (210ft, 1in) on her sixth and final throw to finish second behind Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber.

It was the first medal of a major competition for the eight-time national champion, who installed a system of cables and pulleys in her garden to track her training during the pandemic.

New York Post

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