Both Beat the World Record, but Only One Could Win Gold

Sydney McLaughlin of the US wins Olympics' 400-meter hurdles event
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2021 12:01 AM CDT
Both Beat the World Record, but Only One Could Win Gold
Sydney Mclaughlin, of the United States, wins the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record. Dalilah Muhammad broke it, too. Only one of the world's best hurdlers could win the Olympic gold medal—and McLaughlin came out ahead in the latest installment of the best rivalry in track, the AP reports. The 21-year-old out of East Orange, NJ, won the 400-meter hurdles title Wednesday, finishing in 51.46 seconds in yet another history-making day on the Olympic oval. McLaughlin came from behind after the last hurdle to top the defending Olympic champion. Muhammad's time of 51.58 also beat McLaughlin's old record of 51.9, set at Olympic trials in June. But Muhammad got the silver.

For McLaughlin, it was a muted celebration—in part, certainly, because traversing 400 meters while clearing 10 hurdles at 17mph is so much more exhausting than she makes it look. She sat on the ground, gave a serious look toward the scoreboard—yep, it's a record ... again—then got up and moved toward the hand-sanitizing station. Muhammad came over and gave her a congratulatory hug. They'll meet again: World championships are next July. McLaughlin and Muhammad, a New York City native who went to Southern Cal, have been trading the record, and the wins, for two years. Muhammad first broke the mark at US Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2019, then lowered it again, to 52.16, at the world championships in Doha. McLaughlin broke that record earlier this summer at Olympic trials, running her 51.90 to become the first woman to crack 52 seconds. (More on Wednesday's race here.)

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