2020 Tokyo Olympics: Team USA’s Sydney McLaughlin Sets Women’s Hurdles Record, Wins Gold

by Emily Morgan

On Wednesday at the Tokyo Olympics, Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record and won gold during the Olympic 400-meter hurdles. She finished in 51.46 seconds in another close triumph over U.S. teammate Dalilah Muhammad.

Muhammad’s time of 51.58 also beats McLaughlin’s old record of 51.9, set at the Olympic trials in June. Femke Bol of the Netherlands took the bronze.

For McLaughlin, her celebration was without any fanfare. Perched on the ground, she looked solemnly at the scoreboard. She then got up, sanitized her hands, and embraced Muhammad.

McLaughlin and Muhammad had been vying for the record, and the wins, for the last two years. Muhammad first broke the mark at U.S. Nationals in 2019, then lowered it again. to 52.16 at the world championships in Doha.

Later, McLaughlin broke that record at the Olympic trials. Her 51.90 made her the first woman to get under 52 seconds. However, going into Tokyo, she felt that the mark would go down again on a fast track in perfect, hot-and-humid weather.

A day earlier, Karsten Warholm broke his old world record, finishing the men’s race in 45.94, and runner-up Rai Benjamin’s 46.17 also beat the old score. For the women, the bar was high, and fans at home eagerly anticipated the race. As a result, they exceeded everyone’s expectations.

McLaughlin & Muhammad Duel It Out at Tokyo Olympics

Kicking off from Lane 7, Muhammad busted out of the blocks and made up the lag quickly as they ran down the backstretch.

Pacing herself, McLaughlin drew even, and they were at nearly a draw when they reached the last 100 meters. McLaughlin scaled the final hurdle, then started inching ahead of Muhammad. It would be enough for McLaughlin to seal her fate and take home the gold.

Speaking about her experience, McLaughlin said she was “grateful” to represent the U.S. at the Olympics.

“Just trusting the process. Giving the glory to God. That’s all. This season, hard work and dedication and just really grateful to be able to represent my country and to have this opportunity,” she said.

Muhammad also defied the odds at the Games. She contracted coronavirus twice and suffered a hamstring injury. However, she’s leaving Tokyo with a silver medal in her hand.

“It definitely was a journey just filled with so many ups and downs. So just thankful to God for getting me to this point. Just so thankful, so thankful to end on a silver medal for the USA,” she said.

This marks McLaughlin’s first Olympic gold medal. She had won gold in the 2019 World Championships in the 4×400-meter relay and a silver in the same competition in the 400-meter hurdles.

Additionally, Muhammad won a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles in the 2016 Games and a gold in the same event in the 2019 World Championships.