World Champs Women’s 400H — Performance Of The Year?

If Sydney McLaughlin’s 50.68 isn’t the Performance Of The Year we can’t wait to see what trumps it! (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

WHAT’S A VALID COMPARISON for Sydney McLaughlin’s boggler World Record to trounce the 400H field? Warholm’s 45.94 in Tokyo? He had Rai Benjamin not far behind, wasn’t all alone out there in Wowville. Bolt’s 9.58? Flojo? Beamon?

McLaughlin’s 50.68 run to the world title cut 0.73 from the astounding-in-its-own-right WR she lowered to 51.41 on this same track at the USATF Champs 3 weeks ago.

It also left the Nos. 2 and 3 all-time 400 hurdlers, the other two Tokyo Olympic medalists, so far behind one was tempted to look up their zip codes.

Femke Bol of the Netherlands stormed across in 52.27 for silver, 0.07 faster than what was the WR from ’03 to ’19. Defending world champion and Olympic silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad, the woman who kicked off the recent record-toppling spree 3 years ago, raced in for bronze in 53.13.

Shamier Little at 53.76 and Britton Wilson at 54.02 claimed places 4 and 5, a fine grouping for Team USA, which previously in this championships had been shut out on track medals and had not even a finalist in the flat 400.

This magnificent hurdles comp belonged lock, stock & barrel to McLaughlin, who dropped a walloping 52.17 to win her semi.

Drawn in lane 5, the 22-year-old sensation had eyes on Muhammad to her right in 6, with Bol out of sight in corridor 4. Little in lane 3 and Wilson in 1 had tighter turns to contend with. The air was 73 degrees (23C) with 56% humidity and flags along the backstraight indicated a breeze would greet the hurdlers on that stretch.

McLaughlin struck out hard from the gun to hurdle 1 in 22 steps. She ate into the stagger to Muhammad incrementally and built a noticeable gap versus Bol.

Over with a right-leg lead, McLaughlin — having used short hurdles races indoors to increase her comfort leading with either leg — alternated until she switched to a steady barrage of rights for barriers 7–10.

She closed the stagger on Muhammad by hurdle 4 and led by very close to her final margin at 200. She passed the halfway mark in 24.25 as Bol split 24.97 and Muhammad 25.03. Lightning quick running for all three.

At 300m McLaughlin’s 37.02 split led Bol by 1.22 (!). As Syd ran away from them, Bol led Muhammad by a quarter step at hurdle 7, a lead she increased over each barrier on the homestraight.

By hurdle 9, McLaughlin’s lead was nearly 10m and Bol’s advantage on Muhammad a meter-plus. From there McLaughlin steamed away into the land of crazy times.

The decibels released by the roaring crowd made a powerful statement of their own, echoing tumultuously around the stadium.

McLaughlin dipped just a little at the line and closed her eyes in contemplation of those digits, not easily computed.

So otherworldly fast was McLaughlin that her time would have placed 7th in the flat 400 run earlier in the evening.

When Bol hugged her, McLaughlin smiled then dropped into a crouch, shaking her head, and then to a seated position on the track, catching her breath and looking lost in thought. She took her time before standing up.

“I was just trying to process the lactic acid,” she said later, “and I was just taking a moment to really just enjoy what had just taken place. You know, so many times the race goes by and you forget what happens.

“I really just wanted to sit there for a moment and soak it all in before getting into the craziness of what follows that.”

Bol, after losing for the first time this season, said, “I’m just really happy. I mean, in the mixed relay I got a silver and to add another one is amazing. I ran against the best ever in the world, Sydney and Dalilah, and I got 2nd. I was 3rd at the Olympics so I’m just extremely happy with this race and this time and especially this medal.”

Muhammad — now with a fourth Worlds medal after silvers in ’13 and ’17 and her WR Doha win — said, “I’m definitely excited to come home with a medal, especially on home soil. Yeah, I was kind of nervous honestly, going into this meet, just not knowing where my fitness level would be. And so to get a medal just feels really just like kind of icing on the cake and just kind of shows, I guess, my resilience as an athlete.”


FINAL (July 22)

(temperature 73F/23C; humidity 56%)

1. Sydney McLaughlin (US) 50.68 WR, AR (old records 51.41 McLaughlin ’22)

(12.26, 11.99 [24.25], 12.77 [37.02], 13.66);

2. Femke Bol (Neth) 52.27 (x, =12 W)

(12.66, 12.31 [24.97], 13.27 [38.24], 14.03);

3. Dalilah Muhammad (US) 53.13

(12.39, 12.64 [25.03], 13.42 [38.45], 14.68);

4. Shamier Little (US) 53.76

(12.79, 12.73 [25.52], 13.46 [38.98], 14.78);

5. Britton Wilson (US) 54.02

(13.00, 12.60 [25.60], 13.60 [39.20], 14.82);

6. Rushell Clayton (Jam) 54.36

(12.79, 12.40 [25.19], 13.90 [39.09], 15.27);

7. Gianna Woodruff (Pan) 54.75

(12.91, 12.90 [25.81], 13.66 [39.47], 15.28);

8. Anna Ryzhykova (Ukr) 54.93

(13.03, 12.82 [25.85], 13.96 [39.81, 15.12).

(lanes: 1. Wilson; 2. Clayton; 3. Little; 4. Bol; 5. McLaughlin; 6. Muhammad; 7. Woodruff; 8. Ryzhykova)

(reaction times: 0.141 Wilson, 0.145 Clayton, 0.147 Little, 0.158 McLaughlin, 0.162 Muhammad, 0.167 Ryzhykova, 0.177 Woodruff, 0.179 Bol)

HEATS (July 19)

I–1. McLaughlin 53.95; 2. Ryzhykova 54.93; 3. Sara Gallego (Spa) 55.09; 4. Paulien Couckuyt (Bel) 55.42; 5. Yasmin Giger (Swi) 55.90; 6. Grace Claxton (PR) 56.40; 7. Chayenne da Silva (Bra) 59.46.

II–1. Janieve Russell (Jam) 54.52; 2. Little 54.77; 3. Viivi Lehikoinen (Fin) 54.95; 4. Viktoriya Tkachuk (Ukr) 55.27; 5. Portia Bing (NZ) 55.72; 6. Linda Olivieri (Ita) 56.09; 7. Aminat Yusuf Jamal Odeyemi (Bhr) 56.78; 8. Yanique Haye-Smith (TKS) 57.99.

III–1. Bol 53.90; 2. Zeney Van Der Walt (SA) 55.05; 3. Woodruff 55.21; 4. Jessie Knight (GB) 55.48; 5. Rebecca Sartori (Ita) 55.72; 6. Thi Lan Quach (Vie) 58.84;… dnf—Daniela Ledecká (Svk).

IV–1. Muhammad 54.45; 2. Shiann Salmon (Jam) 54.91; 3. Sarah Carli (Aus) 55.89; 4. Melissa Gonzalez (Col) 56.24; 5. Kristiina Halonen (Fin) 56.68 PR; 6. Jiadie Mo (Chn) 57.01; 7. Agata Zupin (Slo) 57.12; 8. Lina Nielsen (GB) 57.42.

V–1. Wilson 54.54; 2. Ayomide Folorunso (Ita) 54.69; 3. Amalie Hammild Iuel (Nor) 54.70 PR; 4. Clayton 54.99; 5. Carolina Krafzik (Ger) 56.24; 6. Taylon Bieldt (SA) 56.67; 7. Vera Barbosa (Por) 56.79.

SEMIS (July 20)

I–1. Muhammad 53.28; 2. Ryzhykova 54.51; 3. Russell 54.66; 4. Van Der Walt 54.81 PR; 5. Couckuyt 55.42; 6. Bing 55.53; 7. Carli 55.57; 8. Sartori 55.90.

II–1. Bol 52.84; 2. Little 53.61; 3. Clayton 53.63 PR; 4. Wilson 53.72; 5. Gallego 54.49; 6. Lehikoinen 54.60 NR; 7. Knight 55.39; 8. Olivieri 56.04.

III–1. McLaughlin 52.17 (x, 8 W; x, 7 A) (fastest prelim ever);

2. Woodruff 53.69 NR; 3. Salmon 54.16 (fastest non-q ever); 4. Tkachuk 54.24 (also under old non-q fastest); 5. Folorunso 54.34 NR; 6. Iuel 54.81; 7. Gonzalez 55.13; 8. Giger 56.31.

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