Olympic Trials Women’s 400H — And A World Record To Wrap Things Up

A quick look at the clock told Sydney McLaughlin all she needed to know: 51.90! (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

RUNNING THE RACE of a young lifetime, Sydney McLaughlin unleashed a World Record 51.90 over the long hurdles to give the Olympic Trials bookend WRs after Ryan Crouser’s shot put bomb on the first day of the meet.

McLaughlin’s seemingly effortless 53.03 semi on Saturday gave rise to people wondering aloud about possibilities for a new all-time low. Now a tested veteran at all of 21, she entered the meet as the second-fastest in history and the silver medalist at the ’19 WC. She trailed only Dalilah Muhammad, whose 52.16 in that Doha race had earned her gold and the WR.

With Sunday’s race time pushed back to 9:20 in the evening — and the temperature nonetheless still in the mid-90s — McLaughlin lined up in lane 6, with Muhammad drawn a lane out in 7 and Shamier Little to the inside in 5. The trio had been formcharted for 1st, 3rd and 2nd.

They led from the gun, Muhammad holding a fractional lead over McLaughlin at the first hurdle, with Little touching down equally close. By the second barrier, Muhammad maintained that infinitesimal lead, again with Little right behind.

By hurdle 5 at the end of the backstraight, all three cleared almost in unison, McLaughlin having downshifted smoothly from the left-legged lead she had employed for the first four to a right-leg approach.

Around the curve Muhammad forged a half-step of separation. Entering the homestretch at barrier No. 8, Little had a ragged approach and clearance and was no longer in contention for the win. Muhammad still had a narrow edge over McLaughlin as they started up the stretch, but McLaughlin quickly pulled even. The two leaders ran stride for stride to hurdle 9 with Muhammad touching down barely ahead.

Little, now fading, was all but caught by NCAA champ Anna Cockrell in lane 9, both rising to hurdle at the same time, with Cockrell moving faster.

Coming off the penultimate hurdle McLaughlin made the big move, gaining 2m on the run to the final barrier. Cockrell was moving in similar fashion, well back of the lead pair, but now a meter ahead of Little as she cleared the last hurdle.

The final 40m run-in belonged to McLaughlin, the crowd and the clock. She increased her lead to 4m at the finish, with Cockrell taking 3rd by a healthy meter over Little. A quick glance to the finishline display showed McLaughlin what she wanted, the World Record, and she slowed and then squatted, her hand over her mouth as she held back the emotion before standing to be greeted by the competitors she had left in her wake. The crowd, having exulted over the race, cheered McLaughlin and then the scoreboard replays.

Muhammad, 2nd in 52.42, equaled the No. 5 performance ever (see chart). Cockrell, just 5th with 100m to go, ran a stunning 53.70, beating her former PR by almost a full second, her best being her NCAA-winning 54.68 on this track two weekends ago. Little, who had tried to go with the lead pair, paid the price, finishing in 53.85. (Continued below)

McLaughlin’s comments afterward showed a confidence in herself, her training and her race preparation: “I knew it would be fast; it was great competition, as always. [Coach Bobby Kersee and I] have been training for this; we put it together today.”

Her comments about the record displayed her attitude toward her competitors: “I think great competition always pushes you. It helps to have such an amazing camp of women in the U.S. to get those times. I’m excited for what the future holds.”


(June 27)

1. Sydney McLaughlin (NBal) 51.90 WR, AR (old records 52.16 Dalilah Muhammad [Nik] ’19);

2. Dalilah Muhammad (Nik) 52.42 (x, =6 W; x, 5 A);

3. Anna Cockrell (USC) 53.70 PR;

4. Shamier Little (adi) 53.85;

5. Cassandra Tate (unat) 56.51;

6. Deonca Bookman (unat) 56.90;

7. Ashley Spencer (Nik) 1:00.19;

… dq—Nnenya Hailey (unat) [54.79].

(lanes: 2. Bookman; 3. Spencer; 4. Tate; 5. Little; 6. McLaughlin; 7. Muhammad; 8. Hailey; 9. Cockrell)

(reaction times: 0.167 Muhammad; 0.194 McLaughlin & Tate; 0.201 Cockrell; 0.213 Little; 0.222 Spencer; 0.251 Hailey; 0.349 Bookman)

HEATS (June 25)

I–1. McLaughlin 54.07; 2. Hailey 55.05; 3. Shannon Meisberger (Az) 57.51; 4. Vanessa Watson (Tn) 58.26; 5. Kate Sorensen (Web) 58.45; 6. Deandreah Young (SC) 58.59; 7. Faith Ross (Ky) 58.99.

II–1. Little 55.22; 2. Spencer 55.92; 3. Bookman 56.96; 4. Ashton Lindley (SC) 57.51; 5. Brittley Humphrey (LSU) 57.52; 6. Bianca Stubler (Wi) 57.90;… dq—Madison Langley-Walker (Ok).

III–1. Tate 56.11; 2. Cockrell 56.83; 3. Milan Young (LSU) 57.71; 4. Lauren Hoffman (Duke) 57.88; 5. Britton Wilson (unat) 59.95; 6. JaeNisa Heckstall (SFl) 1:00.29.

IV–1. Muhammad 55.51; 2. Kiah Seymour (GlenTC) 57.18; 3. Kaila Barber (unat) 57.48; 4. Masai Russell (Ky) 57.55; 5. Jaylah Walker (Azusa) 58.52; 6. Eriana Henderson (Co) 58.55; 7. Faith Roberson (UTSA) 58.97.

SEMIS (June 26)

I–1. McLaughlin 53.03; 2. Hailey 54.24 PR; 3. Tate 55.24; 4. Bookman 55.66 PR; 5. Seymour 55.84; 6. Hoffman 57.59; 7. Lindley 58.04; 8. Young 59.39.

II–1. Little 53.71; 2. Muhammad 53.86; 3. Cockrell 55.10; 4. Spencer 55.25; 5. Meisberger 57.22; 6. Russell 58.00; 7. Humphrey 58.95; 8. Barber 60.14.