Just 24 hours after a historic race in the men’s 400m hurdles, the women’s final on Wednesday (4) resulted in a similarly mind-boggling outcome as Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record* to take gold in 51.46.
Mirroring what happened in the men’s event, Dalilah Muhammad finished second in 51.58, well inside McLaughlin’s previous world record of 51.90, and Femke Bol of the Netherlands was third in an area record of 52.03 – faster than Muhammad’s world record (52.16) that stood until June.
“What a great race,” McLaughlin said. “I’m just grateful to be out here celebrating that extraordinary race and representing my country.”
McLaughlin, drawn in lane four, had Bol (lane five) and Muhammad (lane seven) in her sights the entire way. Muhammad, the defending champion and world champion, set off at a ferocious pace, essentially challenging her rivals to go with her.
“I can’t really get it straight in my head yet,” the American added. “I’m sure I’ll process it and celebrate later.”
And that they did. Muhammad held a slight lead throughout, clearing each barrier just a fraction of a second before Bol and McLaughlin. As the stagger unwound on the home straight, Muhammad’s one-meter advantage over McLaughlin became more apparent, but the 21-year-old was still unable to make a dent on the long-time leader.
The final barrier proved pivotal. Both women made some minor adjustments in order to negotiate it, Muhammad shortening her stride and McLaughlin lengthening hers. By the time they touched down on the other side of the barrier, McLaughlin had moved into top gear and started to edge ahead.
She stopped the clock at 51.46 – a time which, up until 1970, would have bettered the world record in the 400m flat. Muhammad was rewarded with a lifetime best of 51.58 and Bol claimed the European record with 52.03.
“Just like the men’s race, all three of our times would have won any Olympics, any other year,” Muhammad said.
“I’m so proud to be part of that history and even more proud of my teammate Sydney. I’m just happy it’s a one-two final for the USA, and today I’m happy with second.”
Janieve Russell’s 53.08, meanwhile, is the fastest ever time for a fourth-place finish and the Jamaican was delighted with her overall performance.
“Brigitte Foster-Hylton my hurdles coach was saying, there are a lot of people in the race with PB’s faster than your; don’t pay that any mind,” Russell noted after just missing a medal.
“It’s what you come to the plate on the day, and I just proved that. I’m fourth in the world this year, and I am just really really, really really really happy.”
Anna Ryzhykova (53.48) and Viktoriya Tkachuk (53.79) also finished inside 54 seconds, confirming this as the deepest 400m hurdles race in global championships history.
—World Athletics News Flash