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McLaughlin smashes world record in epic women's 400m hurdles final

In a scintillating event, second-placed Dalilah Muhammad also finished within the pre-race record.

Sydney McLaughlin.
Sydney McLaughlin.
Image: Petr David Josek

SYDNEY MCLAUGHLIN OBLITERATED her own world record to claim a thrilling last-gasp victory over rival Dalilah Muhammad in the Olympic women’s 400m hurdles final on Wednesday.

In another classic duel between the two dominant American hurdlers, McLaughlin surged past Muhammad just metres from the line to win in 51.46sec, slicing a whopping 0.44sec off her previous mark of 51.90sec set at the US trials in June.

Muhammad, the 2016 Olympic and world champion, took silver with a time of 51.58sec, well inside the old world record, with Femke Bol of the Netherlands earning bronze in 52.03sec.

“What a great race,” said McLaughlin. “I’m just grateful to be out here celebrating that extraordinary race and representing my country.”

It was another epic world record-breaking battle between the 21-year-old McLaughlin and the 31-year-old Muhammad.

Muhammad set a world record when she won the US trials in 2019 ahead of McLaughlin, before again beating her for gold at the 2019 World Championships in Doha in a near photo-finish with a new record.

McLaughlin avenged that loss in Oregon in June to defeat Muhammad at US trials with a devastating world record run.

McLaughlin’s victory on Wednesday came after a superb tactical race which saw Muhammad make a flying start in the lane outside her rival.

Muhammad led coming off the final hurdle but McLaughlin produced a late burst of speed to claim her first gold medal.

“I saw Dalilah ahead of me with one to go. I just thought ‘Run your race’,” McLaughlin said.

“The race doesn’t really start until hurdle seven. I just wanted to go out there and give it everything I had.

“It’s just about trusting your training, trusting your coach, and that will get you all the way round the track.”

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The win came a day after the men’s 400m hurdles race produced an epic duel between Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin, which ended with Norway’s Warholm also setting a world record.

“I can’t really get it straight in my head yet. I’m sure I’ll process it and celebrate later,” McLaughlin said of her record run.

McLaughlin’s world record on Wednesday is just the latest in a slew of records that have tumbled on the Olympic Stadium track, which athletes at the Games have said is conducive to fast times.

 © – AFP, 2021

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