Sydney McLaughlin destroys world 400m hurdles record en route to Track & Field Worlds gold

The American obliterates her own previous mark to finish in 50.68. Netherlands' Femke Bol takes silver and the USA's Dalilah Muhammad bronze

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Home favourite Sydney McLaughlin has destroyed her own 400m hurdles world record, setting a time of 50.68 at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. Femke Bol of the Netherlands won silver and the USA's Dalilah Muhammad bronze.

Just last month, the 22-year-old McLaughlin lowered the world record with a time of 51.41 at the US trials for these championships.

However, this was something altogether on another level.

Starting in lane five sandwiched by former world record holder and teammate Muhammad on her outside and the Netherlands' Bol in lane four, McLaughlin gained on and passed her compatriot in the first 200m.

From then on she was out on her own, entering the final 100m far ahead of her nearest challengers as the crowd sensed that something special was about to take place.

As she passed the line and the time of 50.68 flashed up on the big screen, there were audible gasps from the Hayward Field stands.

Not only had she won gold, she had also taken close to a second off of the world record and become the first woman ever to go under 51 seconds.

Behind her, Bol put in an excellent performance to finish the race in a season's best of 52.27, close to two seconds off of McLaughlin's pace. 2019 World Champion and 2016 Olympic champ Muhammad came home third in 53.13 to round out the podium.

READ MORE: Most asked questions about Sydney McLaughlin

McLaughlin shines on home soil, talks changing events

After setting her historic new world record, McLaughlin sat down on the track, eager to internalise what had just happened.

“I was just trying to process the lactic acid and I was just taking a moment to really just enjoy what had just taken place," she said in a press conference after the race.

“So many times the race goes by and you forget what happens. I really just wanted to sit there for a while and soak it all in before getting into the craziness of what follows that.”

She also revealed that she believes she can run even faster than the world record, given how she has been performing in training and how the sport is evolving.

“I think there’s still more to go," she explained. "I think that we’re all figuring out that, yes, there are 10 barriers, but we can run them a lot faster than people think.

“And there’s no such thing as a perfect race, but I still think that wasn’t even a super clean race.

“So I knew that the time was possible, the numbers don’t lie and Bobby [her coach Bobby Kersee] is really good with numbers. So I’ve just had to trust him and trust my training and go out there and execute the best race I could.”

And when it was put to her that she may not have much left to do in a sport she is dominating, McLaughlin talked about the possibility of changing discipline, either to the shorter 100m hurdles distance or the 400m flat.

“My coach thinks there’s a lot more to be done, if we wanted to try a different event at some point we could try, maybe the four [400 metres], maybe the 100 hurdles. 

"So I think just really enjoying the 400 hurdles and then if we want to expand and do something else, we’ll go from there and see.

"The sky’s the limit.”

Bronze medallist Muhammad spoke about her pride at winning a medal at a home World Championships - the first to take place on US soil in history.

"I'm definitely excited to come home with a medal, especially on home soil," she said. "I was kind of nervous, honestly, going into this meet. Just not knowing where my fitness level would be, so to get a medal feels really just like icing on the cake and shows my resilience as an athlete so really proud of that medal today."

She also discussed the possibility of even faster times being set in the future - particularly by one athlete who seems to have no obvious limitations right now.

"You know, I definitely thought 50 was possible," she said. "After that race, I think 49 is possible… for Sydney!"

Silver medallist Bol, agreed with Muhammad's sentiment that the goalposts of the sport have now been moved forever.

"Yeah, I think the same, pretty much," she said. "It's just amazing to run 50, one year ago 51 was for the first time. It's great to see this event going so fast."

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