Olympic legend Edwin Moses: 'Sydney McLaughlin is a serious competitor'

Moses, a double Olympic gold medallist, was full of praise for women's 400m hurdles world record holder McLaughlin, who races for gold in Friday's final at the Track & Field World Championships

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

USA track & field legend Edwin Moses knows a thing or two about the 400m hurdles. A gold medallist at two Olympic Games - Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984 - the now 66-year-old went an astonishing 122 races without being beaten and broke the world record on four occasions.

So when he speaks about hurdling, people listen.

At the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, the 6ft2 (188cm) former athlete - who is still a student of the game as much as he has earned the right to be an authority - gave his opinion about the rise of fellow American Sydney McLaughlin, the current women’s world record holder and reigning Olympic champion.

For Moses, the secret to her success is as much to do with her mental strength as her physical performance.

“She has a fantastic temperament,” he said at an interview at the Adidas house in Eugene two days before McLaughlin attempts to win her first world 400m hurdles title. “Over the last year, year and a half, she’s learned how to hurdle, to really become a hurdler.”

The past 12 months really have represented a landmark in the progression of McLaughlin, who took over the mantle of fastest women's 400m hurdler in history from Dalilah Muhammad, her compatriot and competitor in the World Championships final that takes place on Friday 22 July.

Moses feels it’s down to an attitude that has seen McLaughlin put in the hard work to reach the pinnacle of her sport.

“She’s not afraid of tough workouts, she’s got a great coach and she’s a serious competitor,” he said.

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Alison dos Santos win no surprise for Moses

Earlier in these championships, Moses watched Alison dos Santos of Brazil storm to victory in the men’s 400m hurdles final, beating off the competition of Norway's world record holder Karsten Warholm and home favourite Rai Benjamin - the Olympic silver medal winner last year in Tokyo.

And while Dos Santos had only stood on the third step of the podium at the last Olympic Games, Moses was not in any way surprised by his performance at these Worlds.

“That’s the way the race was gonna shake down, just with the lane draw, with the competition records coming in, with the injury for Warholm,” he said.

“Dos Santos has run very, very well, being the best hurdler, and I was looking at strategy, who was positioned where and if it was me. I looked at it from all three points of view and the advantage was to Dos Santos.

“And that’s what happened. Exactly the way that I called it.”

It’s also telling that Moses still views races through the eyes of a champion, analysing every factor against his own legendary experience taking part in - and winning - the world’s biggest races.

“I looked at a plan that I would have run if I was on the track, applied it to the scenario and came out with the right guy winning the race.”

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