Usain Bolt’’s 9.58. Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile. Eliud Kipchoge’s two-hour marathon. Now Sydney McLaughlin has written her own name in athletics history by breaking her own 400m hurdles world record by almost three-quarters of a second.
A time of 50.68 absolutely obliterated her own record of 51.41 set in June, but it was the manner of the victory and at the age of just 22, she doesn’t look like she is anywhere near done yet. She was in a completely different race to the rest of the field, winning by over 1.5 seconds, but it is the comparison to the 400m that has drawn interest.
McLaughlin’s gold medal winning performance was so outrageous that, had she been placed in the 400m final, she would have finished 7th out of nine, even though she had to clear ten hurdles along the way. Given this final was the fourth-straight major race in which McLaughlin has bettered her own world record and the first time a female runner has gone under 51 seconds in the event, her domination can only be compared to that of Bolt, Michael Johnson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
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It’s no wonder that given this utter domination over the hurdles, the American’s attention, and the fans have thought about her switching to the flat, or potentially competing in both races over the coming year. It would be a huge workload if she were to go for both events, but she has repeatedly proven she has the pace over one lap of the track, whether she has to clear hurdles or not.
She dropped her world record by eight-tenths. Absurd.
No one was near her.
“Honestly, I just wanted to run and go for it,” McLaughlin said of the world record and the $100,000 prize for breaking it. “That last 100 really hurt…. The time is absolutely amazing and the sport is getting faster and faster. I only get faster from here.”
That’s a worrying statement for the rest of the athletics world, given the distance she won the race by, but it is the 400m which again brings intrigue. Double Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo is the leading light in that event and scooped another gold with a time of 49.11, but that is just 1.5 seconds ahead of McLaughlin’s hurdle time.
Could she make that time up over 400m flat? It would take some practise but she has the raw pace and rhythm to challenge for medals over the one-lap race. This crossover would make for an intriguing watch, but we don’t want to lose the greatest female hurdler ever - because she is trying to push the limits across both disciplines.
Breaking the ‘impossible’ 50 second mark over hurdles should be the next target for this unbelievable talent. McLaughlin can go on to achieve whatever she desires, but pushing this world record to its limit, before going onto obliterate the 400m would put her down as one of the greatest of all time. And she’s still only 22.
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