American Sydney McLaughlin broke her world record for the women’s 400m hurdles in athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, clocking 51.46 seconds to win the gold medal, today, Wednesday.
The 21-year-old sprinter almost stumbled in the penultimate barrier but showed her strength in the last meters to break her previous record of 51.90 seconds, which she achieved in the American qualifying last June.
Her compatriot Dalilah Mohamed, the 2019 world champion and gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Games, came in second and took the silver with a record of 51.58 seconds in her personal best result, while the Dutchwoman Femke Paul won the bronze with a time of 52.03 seconds, a European record.
“I’m so happy,” McLaughlin said. “What a great race this is. I am so grateful to be here celebrating this extraordinary race and representing my country. I saw Delilah go before the last hurdle so I thought I should run at my level.”
“The race didn’t really start until the seventh barrier. I just wanted to go forward and give everything I could,” she added.
The conflict between McLaughlin and Delilah (31 years) was one of the most anticipated competitions in athletics in Tokyo, and was already at the level of expectations and came one day after the success of the Norwegian Karsten Warholm in breaking his world record in the same race in men’s competitions.
Although Dalilah wanted more than silver, she was happy with her best time, and she was proud of her colleague and fellow winner.
“As was the case in the men’s race, all three of our times were enough to win an Olympic title in any other year. I’m proud to be a part of this history, and even more proud of my teammate Sydney,” Delilah said.
The achievement marks McLaughlin’s latest breakthrough since working under famous coach Bob Kersey, with the Olympic champion praising his role in improving her level after failing to reach the final of the 2016 Rio Games.
“I can’t really think about it in my head,” McLaughlin said. “I’m sure I’ll get it and celebrate later.”
Paul took the bronze by more than one second from fourth-placed Jamaican Janeev Russell to collect her first Olympic medal and said she was aware of the need to appear at her best to reach the podium.
“The rest of the girls are very strong,” Paul said. “I felt so ready. I was thinking we’d have to compete hard and I’ll see what happens. I knew I was fast and I proved it to myself.”